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Expert gives Congress solution to vote machine cyber-security fears: Keep a paper backup

Published: December 5, 2017
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Source: The Register

With too many electronic voting systems buggy, insecure and vulnerable to attacks, US election officials would be well advised to keep paper trails handy.

This is according to Dr Matt Blaze, a University of Pennsylvania computer science professor and top cryptographer, who spoke to Congress this week about cyber-threats facing voting machines and election infrastructure.

Among Blaze's recommendations is that rather than rely on purely electronic voting machines to log votes, officials use optical scan machines that retain a paper copy of each voter's ballot that can be consulted if anyone grows concerned about counting errors or tampering. In other words, due to the fact that everything has bugs and flaws, truly paperless voting systems should be a no-no.

"In many electronic voting systems in use today, a successful attack that exploits a software flaw might leave behind little or no forensic evidence. This can make it effectively impossible to determine the true outcome of an election or even that a compromise has occurred," Blaze told [PDF] the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

"Unfortunately, these risks are not merely hypothetical or speculative. Many of the software and hardware technologies that support US elections today have been shown to suffer from serious and easily exploitable security vulnerabilities that could be used by an adversary to alter vote tallies or cast doubt on the integrity of election results."

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