Warm Southern Breeze

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Posts Tagged ‘optical scanner’

Russians Hacked Into Election Software

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The ONLY FAILSAFE means to electronically count ballots is by using an Optical Scanning system. Votes can be counted manually, and Voter Intent can be determined by examining ballots. I write from experience as an Election Official in numerous elections. Can any electronic device be hacked? Yes. But physical ballots are the “backup” which can be examined to check against any suspicious machine, or software.

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Russians Hacked Into Election Software, Databases In 39 States

The scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they complained directly to Moscow over a modern-day “red phone.”

By Michael Riley and Jordan Robertson, Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON – Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported.

In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said.

The scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they took an unprecedented step — complaining directly to Moscow over a modern-day “red phone.” In October, two of the people said, the White House contacted the Kremlin on the back channel to offer detailed documents of what it said was Russia’s role in election meddling and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict.

The new details, buttressed by a classified National Security Agency document recently disclosed by the Intercept, show the scope of alleged hacking that federal investigators are scrutinizing as they look into whether Trump campaign officials may have colluded in the efforts. But they also paint a worrisome picture for future elections: The newest portrayal of potentially deep vulnerabilities in the U.S.’s patchwork of voting technologies comes less than a week after former FBI Director James Comey warned Congress that Moscow isn’t done meddling.

“They’re coming after America. They will be back.”

– Former FBI Director James Comey testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington declined to comment on the agency’s probe.

Russian officials have publicly denied any role in cyberattacks connected to the U.S. elections, including a massive “spear phishing” effort that compromised Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, among hundreds of other groups. President Vladimir Putin said in recent comments to reporters that criminals inside the country could have been involved without having been sanctioned by the Russian government.

One of the mysteries about the 2016 presidential election is why Russian intelligence, after gaining access to state and local systems, didn’t try to disrupt the vote. One possibility is that the American warning was effective. Another former senior U.S. official, who asked for anonymity to discuss the classified U.S. probe into pre-election hacking, said a more likely explanation is that several months of hacking failed to give the attackers the access they needed to master America’s disparate voting systems spread across more than 7,000 local jurisdictions.

Such operations need not change votes to be effective. In fact, the Obama administration believed that the Russians were possibly preparing to delete voter registration information or slow vote tallying in order to undermine confidence in the election. That effort went far beyond the carefully timed release of private communications by individuals and parties.

One former senior U.S. official expressed concern that the Russians now have three years to build on their knowledge of U.S. voting systems before the next presidential election, and there is every reason to believe they will use what they have learned in future attacks.

As the first test of a communication system designed to de-escalate cyber conflict between the two countries, the cyber “red phone” — not a phone, in fact, but a secure messaging channel for sending urgent messages and documents — didn’t quite work as the White House had hoped. NBC News first reported that use of the red phone by the White House last December.

The White House provided evidence gathered on Russia’s hacking efforts and reasons why the U.S. considered it dangerously aggressive. Russia responded by asking for more information and providing assurances that it would look into the matter even as the hacking continued, according to the two people familiar with the response.

“Last year, as we detected intrusions into websites managed by election officials around the country, the administration worked relentlessly to protect our election infrastructure,” said Eric Schultz, a spokesman for former President Barack Obama. “Given that our election systems are so decentralized, that effort meant working with Democratic and Republican election administrators from all across the country to bolster their cyber defenses.”

Illinois, which was among the states that gave the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security almost full access to investigate its systems, provides a window into the hackers’ successes and failures.

In early July 2016, a contractor who works two or three days a week at the state board of elections detected unauthorized data leaving the network, according to Ken Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois board of elections. The hackers had gained access to Read the rest of this entry »

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Tiny printing problem on ballots causes small stir in Mobile, Alabama -or- The Benefits of Optical Scanner Ballots

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, March 15, 2012

{UPDATE 3/15/12: I modified the title of this entry, because I believe it more accurately reflects what I wish to express in sharing this entry, that…} While no balloting system is perfect, Alabama‘s system – the Optech Eagle 2000 optical scanner – is the best I’ve ever seen or used. Having been an election official in numerous elections throughout the state where the system is implemented (and the system is implemented state wide), I have never seen, nor heard of any failures or inability of ballots to be counted.

The beauty of that system is that even if electricity or the machines fail, ballots are able to be securely cast by voters, because they’re deposited in a securely locked box to which the ballot counting machine is attached. And even if there were no machines to function at all, ballots could be counted and voter intent determined by manual examination of the ballots. Voters can even request a new ballot if they cast their ballot in error, or change their mind. The “glitch” described in this story – while exceedingly rare – in no way detracted from the ability of votes to be counted, or voter intent determined.

With electronic balloting however, if a machine fails or electrical power fails, there’s no way for voters to cast their ballots. As well, electronic algorithms and computer code can be hacked. And security breaches of such code continues to be problematic. Further, if a voter casts a ballot in error, voters cannot change their vote with electronic balloting.

Mobile County ballot problems caused by tiny printing error

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A small printing error on some Mobile County ballots forced poll workers to count thousands by hand late Tuesday.

Published: Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 6:00 PM     Updated: Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 6:06 PM

Katherine Sayre, Press-Register By Katherine Sayre, Press-Register
MOBILE, Alabama — A printing mistake on some Mobile County ballots in Tuesday’s election caused electronic voting machines to reject them — forcing poll workers to count roughly 3,000 ballots by hand into the early morning hours, Probate Court officials said today.

“This little white dot,” said Probate Judge Don Davis, pointing to a white, donut-shaped mark barely one-tenth of an inch wide.

The tiny error, though, ended up in an important spot, on the security markings that let the electronic machines know whether to count it. The markings look like a bar code stretching along the side of the ballot.

The faulty marks appeared only on Read the rest of this entry »

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