Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rewards for hacking electronic voting machines? Great idea!

Provinces and regions of the Philippines.Image via Wikipedia

Phillipine's Senator Alan Peter Cayetano's proposal to reward anyone who can hack an electronic voting machine may not be as outlandish as Manila Standard Today columnist Fel Maragay thinks.

The Phillipines, like New York State, passed a law mandating automated election machines. As in New York State, their law includes criteria the machines must meet -- 18 specifications in the Phillipines; Federal certification in NY. But Senator Cayetano knows what so many don't want to admit -- those specifications don't make voting machines secure. And he aims to prove it. [Emphasis mine]:

Philippine News -- Manila Standard Today -- Fears over poll automation -- may4_2009: "The automation law, according to its principal author, Senator Richard Gordon, requires the contractor of the automation project to comply with at least 18 specifications to ensure the 100-percent accuracy and efficiency and to ensure that the process is free from hacking and manipulation. But so extreme is the apprehension of the doubting Thomases over the threat of hacking that it has reached paranoiac proportion. This prompted Senator Alan Peter Cayetano to come out with an outlandish proposal to allocate P100 million out of the automation budget as a reward to anyone who can successfully hack the voting machines, supposedly to put in place the necessary counter-measures."

If the NY legislature believes software-based voting is secure, let them offer a substantial reward for anyone who can hack it. They have nothing to lose. And, if they believe the experts -- that all software-based systems are vulnerable to hacking -- then they should rescind ERMA, letting us keep the lever system that has worked with so few problems for so many years.

Outlandish or reasonable. What do you think?

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