back to article America was getting on top of its electronic voting machine security – then suddenly... A wild pandemic appears

Just as America was getting a grip on improving the security of its electronic ballot boxes, the coronavirus pandemic hit, throwing a potential surge in remote voting unexpectedly into the mix, the Black Hat hacking conference was told today. In his keynote address to the now-virtual infosec confab, Georgetown Professor Matt …

  1. Snowy Silver badge

    A couple of interesting videos

    Voting by Mail: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

    Voting Machines: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

    1. tcmonkey

      Another interesting video

      Why Electronic Voting Is Still A Bad Idea: Tom Scott

      How do you fix electronic voting? You don't. Throw it in the bin.

      1. veti Silver badge

        See your videos, and I raise you

  2. DS999 Silver badge

    I don't understand how you can have trouble printing enough ballots

    Printing is about the easiest damn thing you can do, and you have to print ballots whether they are mailed in or voted in person. I can fully understand how getting multiple times the usual number of mail in ballots will clog your systems if you don't know about it in advance but everyone knows about it in advance. Whether you have the budget to buy more optical scan machines to read them all on election night, and are able to get them installed in time, is another matter.

    In the end though, who cares if you don't know the result at midnight on election day, and maybe have to wait a few days or possibly even a few weeks? The US election system is set up with that mind, where voting takes place in early November but the electoral college happens in mid December and the new congress and president don't take office until January.

    There is plenty of time for counting to take place, the real danger is the orange snowflake being so afraid of losing he's been paving the way for declaring "fraud" when he loses and readying the conspiracy loons on the right for claims of "slow counting equals cheating". Especially since the absentee ballots, which historically have almost always favored republicans, look to favor democrats this time given how he keeps speaking out against them and how he's encouraging his supporters to act as though coronavirus isn't something to worry about. No doubt there will be at least a few states where he's in the lead on election night, but loses once all the absentee ballots are tallied.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I don't understand how you can have trouble printing enough ballots

      We still do manual counting of ballots here in the UK and one of our local cities, pop. 340,000 is usually first in with their results, their record being 48 minutes after the polls closed. The election is usually a done deal within 4-5 hours of the polls closing, only the some of the more outlying Highlands and Islands constituencies coming in late due to obvious logistics issues.

      All it takes is logistics and people. Nothing complex. On the other hand, we tend to hold only one election at a time. We tend not to vote for our local Sheriff or dog-catcher on the same ballot.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I don't understand how you can have trouble printing enough ballots

      "No doubt there will be at least a few states where he's in the lead on election night, but loses once all the absentee ballots are tallied."

      Ah, something else different. Here in the UK, postal votes are sent in advance and counted on the night with all the rest. Not hours or days later.

  3. Joe Harrison


    For a while I lived in a large and grotty apartment complex where mail was delivered to the front desk and people helped themselves. Yes house-dwellers, downmarket flats are not like the movies where everyone has a little mailbox with a key. Bracknell Forest council sent all residents a car-window pass to use the recycling dump and they were quite strict about refusing access to non-passholders/taxpayers.

    About a hundred and fifty were delivered to "A. Smith, Apt 001" , "B Jones, Apt 002" and so on. They sat in a big heap and people took their own one. After two weeks there was still a large pile addressed to people who no longer lived there or for other reasons had not collected them. Finally some enterprising resident sold them on eBay because access to the dump is quite valuable.

    Same will happen for mass postal voting.

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: Dodgy

      You can exercise your rights to vote in person despite being registered as postal.

      Self-evidently if your Electoral Registration renewal .. gets through the post ;-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dodgy

      Yes, your hypothetical extrapolation from unrelated anecdote is certainly a persuasive counterargument to the Heritage Foundation's analysis from actual data.

    3. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Dodgy

      So what are you suggesting people would do in your "grotty apartment complex"? Send mail requesting an absentee ballot in the name of a former resident, then when it arrives use it to cast a vote?

      There's a huge problem with your fearmongering: that person needs to be registered to vote for you to send in an absentee ballot request in their name, and they have to not have sent their own request in at their new address or voted in person for the vote to count. Don't know how all states handle it, but where I live the state tracks down such duplicate votes. There was exactly one such case in 2016 - a Trump voter who voted both absentee and in person, who when contacted about it by county officials claimed to be "worried my vote might not count". They charged her, dunno what happened to the case.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Dodgy

        Oh yes, and also, you have to forge their signature. Now I'm not a big fan of signatures as authentication, and my signatures vary quite a bit over time, but if someone has a scrawl like mine, a zig zag like Trump's won't pass muster, nor will a big loopy signature, or one that's readable. Without an example of their signature you can only guess, and most likely will have the wrong "type" that would pass even the most cursory (pun not intended) visual comparison.

  4. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Is this the same post office

    that misplaced a warehouse full of mail (including invitations to the Clinton inaugural ball) for three years or so?

    Yep, that mail is super-secure.

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