When I wrote this, it was the morning of Election Day in the United States. The question of manufacturing votes and vote switching was on many people’s minds. It got me thinking: does your vote really count, and if so, can someone potentially neutralize it?
Working in the IT security industry, we pride ourselves on helping customers ensure the integrity of their systems and helping discover their vulnerability to system compromise. An individual’s vote and a nation’s course should receive the same level of concern.
I was in line the other day to early vote in our state. The man in front of me went to cast his ballot only to find someone had requested an absentee ballot in his name. He was very upset as his vote had been stolen.
We have situations where tens, even hundreds, of ballots get sent to the same address. Electronic voting machines have repeatedly been shown to be unsecure and hackable. The dead even seem interested in their voice being heard from beyond the grave.
History is replete with voter fraud. In Ancient Greece, the Athenians would get together once a year to vote out a person who was deemed to be a threat to democracy and force them to leave for ten years. They would cast their “Ostracon,” which is a pottery fragment, and that person would then be considered ostracized. There were reports back then of a person’s political enemies handing out ostracons with that person’s name on it. Even in the birth of democracy, people found a way to game the system.
Joseph Stalin is attributed with the following quotation:
“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
Those of us in the security industry have a responsibility to help ensure the integrity and reliability of a vote. Everyone who is able to cast a vote has a right to be counted.
When I hear of solutions involving allowing everyone to vote on the Internet, I cringe. When I hear of using software, I cringe. These are all things that can be hacked and manipulated. Ideas such as fingerprint ID will help ensure those who vote will know they have voted, but what prevents someone changing that vote to meet an agenda?
Ultimately, we must figure out how to watch the watcher.
In 1960, the country had a choice between Kennedy and Nixon. Nixon lost that race, but the nation soon afterwards learned that Kennedy had received numerous votes from the deceased, enough so that it put him over the top in Illinois.
The dead should never trump the will of the living. It’s time we solved this, so our future will still be in our hands.