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  • 1. Electronic Voting Systems A Brief Look at the Current Issues and Some Possible Improvements Andrew Notarian
  • 2. Help America Vote Act (HAVA)
    • Reaction to 2000 Voting Controversy
    • Gives States Funds to Replace Equipment
    • Uniform Equipment Across a State
    • Better Accessibility
    • January 2006 Deadline
    • Most States Bought Electronic Voting Machines
    Source: http://concise.britannica.com/
  • 3. Direct Record Electronic (DRE) Voting Machines
    • Analogous to Mechanical Lever Machines
    • No Paper Ballot
    • Selections are stored on a memory device
    Source: Feldman, Felten & Wallach 2006
  • 4. Controversy
    • Crashes and Bugs Already Observed
    • One NC County lost 4,500 to 12,000 votes in 2004 because of a technical problem
    • Recent elections have been very close, so accuracy is more important than usual
    • Widespread Reports of Security and Privacy Problems from CS Community
  • 5. Real Time Controversy
    • Blogs, Security & University web sites are the scene of the pro-security side
    • DRE Vendor Web sites post documents intending to discredit unfavorable security studies
    • Peer-Reviewed Papers and Conferences often circumnavigated in the interest of “getting it out there”.
  • 6. An Independent Assessment
    • National Research Council (NRC) convenes a committee in 2004 to investigate e-voting
    • Co-chairs: Two former State Governors
    • Receive Testimony from Industry experts, policy makers across the political spectrum
    • Final Report released in early 2006
  • 7. NRC Key Areas of Concern
    • Security
    • Usability & Human Factors
    • Life Cycle
    • Poll Worker Training
    • Data
    • Public Confidence
    • Testing, Certification & Evaluation
    • Funding & Sustaining Improvement
    • Election Institutions
    • The Role of the Private Sector in Election Administration
  • 8. Security: JHU Study, 2003
    • Diebold AccuVote-TS 4.3.1 Source Code Leaked
    • C++ code for a Windows CE platform
    • Coding Style seems immature, ad-hoc
    • DES key stored in plaintext throughout
    • Etc. etc.
    • Conclusion: AccuVote not ready for use in a general election
  • 9. Security: Maryland Reacts
    • MD had just purchased $56.6 million of Diebold AccuVote units around the time JHU Study went public
    • MD orders SAIC to conduct a security assessment – mostly agrees with JHU
    • MD orders RABA Technologies to perform a second assessment – mostly validates JHU Findings
    • SAIC and RABA had access to newer, more complete code base
  • 10. Security: Princeton Study, 2006
    • Princeton Researchers buy an AccuVote machine through a private channel
    • They tinker and find ways to break it
    • AccuVote unit and software version as purchased had been widely used in actual elections, and had been accredited by the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED)
  • 11. Security: Princeton Findings
    • Easy to disrupt voting process through injected virus, Denial of Service
    • Possible to inject code to change vote counts with physical access to machine for 60 seconds
    • Physical locks on the devices are easily obtained on the Internet (e.g. “mini-bar keys” were the same)
    • Issues found in 2003 JHU Study still not addressed
  • 12. Security: Princeton Proof of Concept
    • A “Vote Stealing Control Panel” was injected into the AccuVote because to device automatically looks to removable storage for code to run (“AutoRun”)
    • External Storage Devices are also not encrypted
    • Vote Stealing leaves no traces
    • Source: Feldman, Felten & Wallach 2006
  • 13. Security: Not Just Diebold
    • A group of concerned citizens performed their own analysis of Nedap DREs used in Europe
    • Many security & privacy issues were discovered
    • Ireland chose not to deploy their new Nedap machines as a result
    • Germany did a bitwise code audit before and after their elections
  • 14. Usability & Human Factors
    • NRC found that sufficient usability studies of DREs had not been conducted
    • Voters should be given ample opportunities to practice using the machines before and during election day
  • 15. Life Cycle
    • Election Boards used to buying equipment that will last decades
    • Voting Machines will fail and become obsolete much quicker
    • What happens if the vendor goes out of business?
    • What happens if the memory cards are no longer on the market?
    • Smaller election bodies may not have mature approaches to procurement (risk analysis, etc.)
  • 16. Poll Worker Training
    • Most poll workers and election judges want more training
    • Between the 2006 Primary and Election, MD provided re-training opportunities
    • Most poll workers not tech savvy
    • Polling Stations need mature tech support infrastructure, i.e. places to go for help
  • 17. Testing, Certification & Evaluation
    • IEEE was/is developing a Standard for Voting Machine evaluation (1583)
    • Electronic Frontier Foundation fought the standard because it did not address security, reliability, accuracy, accessibility
    • NRC recommends independent Voting Device certification body (a UL type, or a new body within a National Laboratory)
  • 18. Ideas: Gambling Industry
    • NRC received testimony from NV/NJ
    • Gambling Computers are heavily regulated, made by licensed vendors, inspected often
    • Assumption is that people will try to cheat
    • Testing, testing, testing
    • Formal Dispute Resolution process if any given party suspects they’ve been cheated
    • Voting Industry could learn from this
  • 19. Ideas: Voter Verified Paper Trail (VVPAT)
    • Paper receipts could allow voters to see that the machine “got it right”
    • Paper receipts could serve as a backup vote counting mechanisms
    • Parallel Testing: compare paper vote count to DRE count
    • Paper Receipt could be printed onto optical scan cards
  • 20. Ideas: Fancy VVPAT
    • David Chaum proposed encrypted paper receipts, which come in two laminated layers
    • Separating the layers makes receipt unreadable, one layer discarded
    • Entering the serial number at the election website provides an image of the lost layer and makes receipt readable again
    • Probably too complicated…
  • 21. Ideas: My Fancy VVPT Idea
    • Encrypt parameters about the vote (machine serial number, time/date, candidate selections, etc.) into a one-way hash
    • Print that hash onto a paper receipt graphically
    • Allow voter to enter receipt serial number at election website and see that the hash image on file matches the receipt – i.e. the vote hasn’t been modified
    • Also, definitely don’t use thermal printers for these VVPAT receipts
  • 22. Ideas: Open Source Software
    • Many computer scientists believe open code is more secure (lots of free testers)
    • Most software vendors believe closed code is more secure (problems are unknown)
    • Australia posts the source code of their voting system online as a .ZIP archive
    • Belgium allowed public inspection of voting code to increase confidence
  • 23. Ideas: Open Source Software
    • DREs cost around $5000 each
    • $100 Linux Laptops could run open-source voting software, much cheaper
    • The simpler the code, the less room for security issues to creep in
    • Windows CE full of functionality a voting machine doesn’t need
  • 24. Conclusions
    • HAVA’s January 2006 Deadline seemed to make states rush to buy voting system not ready for wide use
    • Great Advantages to e-voting: speed, accessibility, etc.
    • Electronic Voting Security & Privacy will improve with time. The technologies are still very immature.
    • Formal independent Certification and Testing is a must
    • Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails could help gain voter trust, prove that DREs are accurate
    • Security problems must be addressed, not discredited
    • Consider open-source software as appropriate