Brennan Center releases threat analysis of common voting systems

elections, reform, news, problems, friends, research, policy, legal

A task force of government, academic and non-profit experts convened by the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU Law School has today released the first comprehensive threat analysis of three of the most popular types of electronic voting systems.

Here's a quick quote from MIT professor Ron Rivest from the press release: "I see this as an historic report because it's the first time we've systematically examined security concerns presented by all of the electronic voting systems in use. The report will be invaluable for any election official grappling with electronic security and, hopefully, will pave the way for widespread adoption of better safeguards."

Here's the press release, executive summary and full report.

Here is USA Today's and Reuter's coverage:


blogging, berkeley, photos, friends, iSchool

If you're not following Yuri and Luisa's adventures in China at freewisdom, you're missing out.

PBS' California Connected on recent Diebold vulnerabilities

elections, certification/testing, reform, vendors, standards, news, friends, research, policy

California Connected, a PBS news magazine with an emphasis on California issues, has recently published the last in a special series by Thomas Kelley on the recent security vulnerabilities discovered in voting systems manufactured by Diebold Election Systems, Inc. (DESI).

It starts off with an interactive piece that sets the issue up ("Interactive: Ballot Boxes and Black Holes") and then goes in depth in a four-part series:

  1. "Shortcircuits in our democracy?"
  2. "Backdoors to Castle Diebold"
  3. "Voting machines and hailstorms"
  4. "Two sides speaking in code"

This is the best reporting I've seen on this issue yet, despite the fact that I'm quoted in the third and forth pieces :). (The audio of my interview is available here: MP3)

They also quote (in alphabetical order) Kim Alexander (California Voter Foundation), Paul DeGregorio (Chairman of the EAC), Barbara Dunmore (RoV for Riverside Co.), Lowell Finley (VoterAction), Bev Harris (Black Box Voting), Doug Jones (Univ. of Iowa, ACCURATE), Susan Lapsley (California Asst. Sec. of State for Elections) and Mark Radke (Spokesman for DESI). There are mp3 files of interviews Thomas did linked off of this main index site for the series.

The series does a great job of explaining the issue in basic terms and parsing its complexity to make it more accessible to those who might not be election technology geeks. I especially like how it highlights the tensions between the various parties and values involved in the discussion.

If after reading this material you still can't get enough, you might be interested in reading a document of mine the series cites from a recent briefing that I participated in on Capitol Hill for Senators, Representatives and their staffers:

I pull out my quotes below. ...

Full story »

EFF's Cindy Cohn one of 100 most influential lawyers

San Francisco, friends, legal

Cindy Cohn was just named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the United States, by the National Law Journal ("The 100 most influential lawyers in America "). The journal noted the electronic voting lawsuits among her many important areas of work on freedom and civil liberties.

Got an iPod? Get a Speck ToughSkin

wtf?, photos, usability
image of a 4G iPod in a Speck ToughSkin after being run over by a car

This is a testimonial of sorts. Short version: My iPod got ran over by a car; Speck's ToughSkin saved its ass.

I'm the kind of person that has to have cases for things I own... or they get destroyed. Naturally, if I can get ruggedized cases, that's even better. So, about a year ago when I got a 4G iPod, I also bought a Speck ToughSkin case.

I've only dropped my iPod twice since and there hasn't been any damage to the unit. However, I never suspected just how rugged Speck's skins really are until a recent event. I was returning to Oakland from business in DC and happened to drop my iPod while crossing the street from the airport terminal to the parking lot. In a perfect world, I wouldn't have dropped it in the street... in a reasonable world, I wouldn't have dropped it in the faster lane. I dropped it in the fast lane of the street, face down.

I watched in dismay as two trucks missed the damn thing... but then a honda car with three people in it hit it straight on with both right tires. I assumed it was screwed.

Not even. The plastic cover that protects the screen had come loose and the same plastic screen suffered a decent scrape (see image), but there was no damage whatsoever to the iPod itself.

So, if you've ever wanted data about what a ToughSkin can take... here's one data point: I now know that it, at least, can take a car with three bodies in it while its face-down on the pavement with a two-tire hit.

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