How Internet-Connected Voter Check-In Devices Can Create Election Chaos

from ars technica

A federal judge in Georgia has ordered election officials to print paper backups of voter data so that voting can proceed even if the digital system for checking in voters fails. This is a win for plaintiffs who have argued that flaws in Georgia’s electronic-poll-book (EPB) system hampered voting in the June primary and could do so again in November.

Over the last 20 years, a lot of discussion has revolved around the risk that electronic voting machines pose to the security and integrity of elections. But there has been less attention paid to electronic poll books—another digital system that can undermine election integrity if they malfunction.

Pollworkers use EPBs to verify a voter’s eligibility and then check the voter in. Malfunctions in these systems can slow down the voting process so much that some people give up voting altogether. By targeting precincts where most people vote for a particular candidate or party, a hacker could potentially swing a close election just by triggering malfunctions in electronic poll books. And while voting machines are supposed to be kept off the Internet, electronic poll books are often online throughout election day.

There’s no evidence that anyone has deliberately exploited this potential vulnerability in American elections, and maybe no one ever will. But at a minimum, electronic poll books make American elections more complex and brittle. It’s possible that, as with voting machines, the old paper system was actually a better choice.

More here.

Posted in Law and tagged , , , .

2 Comments

  1. Integrity in voting is one of the most important aspects of voting. Georgia’s new form of voting, the electronic-poll-book system can damage this integrity. This new system requires a voter to check in electronically and vote on a touchscreen machine. While these are printed out and generally supposed to stay confidential, the article admits that electronic poll books are typically online throughout the day. These can be hacked, which could possibly alter how someone is willing to vote. Confidentiality in voting allows people to vote for which candidate they truly want to win. Even the possibility of that information being leaked can sway a voter. A person may be pressured to vote one way, or be in an abusive environment that would force them to vote one way.

    It is also not time efficient. One voting location in Atlanta was at a four hour standstill due to the malfunctions of the electronic poll books. While voting is extremely important, not everyone has time to wait in a four hour line to vote. Especially during the pandemic, the long lines would create a build up of crowds, which is unsafe. The long lines may force someone who intended to vote to give up and leave the voting location. If this became a common practice across the country it could greatly affect the outcome of the election. Electronic poll books are unreliable, as it is impossible to control every technology issue. Software malfunctions are inevitable and can prevent an abundant amount of people to not vote. A paper backup is required anyway, so it is more efficient to only have written accounts. Paper accounts of poll book data are guaranteed to not malfunction. They also do not risk any form of hacking, which eliminates voting bias or influence. The internet should not be involved in the voting process at all, as it is detrimental to affect the outcome of the election. Any changes made to the voting process should make it easier and more reliable, not the other way around.

  2. I don’t think these should be allowed because some computer geeks or hackers can hack the website and ruin everyones chance of voting, and may vote for the wrong person at stake and it can be drama all over. We should leave voting as it is, go up to the poll or vote by mail and send your results in. I do understand that with covid not everyone feels safe going to vote and is scared to get the virus but it is much better than doing it online because of the technology resources we have and how people may use that website to their advantage and it won’t be any good. If you’re going to make a change to the voting, make it a better and safer way, make sure it comes with health guidelines due to covid, and make sure everyone is following rules and directions.

    Also when it says that they can slow up the voting process, we can’t afford to have that due to the fact that we need change in this world asap.
    Also if its online, what happens after the web crashes bc due to too many people at once are trying to vote. I rather them wait in line ( socially distanced) then making online a hard way to vote, because then it may make people not want to vote and we can’t have that at this time during all the terrible things we have witnessed these past few months.

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