Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Americans Elect to be Interviewed by an Independent

Hello Independents!

Americans Elect is gearing up to hold a parallel presidential election in 2012. They hope to actually qualify as a political party in all 50 states. (I hope they are being advised by Ralph Nader's legal team!) They will have nominations in June. Presumably, they will hold their own vote in November. They hope to present the Electoral College with a difficult dilemma: that is, suppose their voters elect someone whom the two major parties did not elect – and they do it with more votes than the Dems or Repubs had? If the EC doesn't follow the "real" popular vote, resentment against the two-party system will get even more intense than it is now. That is good for us! Independents need a really frustrated and angry population before the iron grip that the two majors have on our political system can be broken.

Sol Kleinsmith has an interview lined up with an AE spokesperson. He is soliciting questions that he might ask in the interview. I wonder, for example, will it be legal for a voter to vote in the AE "primary," and also in their state's Dem/Repub primaries? The AE vote will be all Internet voting. This raises a whole slew of questions by itself. I'll tell you what I have suggested to Sol to be asked of AE. You can make your own suggestions at,

Bill wrote:

Hi Sol!

I respectfully suggest that you have an Internet voting security and election integrity section in your interview.

The biggest problem they are going to have after they run their election will be defending the integrity of the Internet voting process. Remember Ohio in 2004? A lot of vocal people cried "foul," because the DREs were suspected of being rigged. Opponents of Internet voting will say that the program could have been fixed to elect a specific person, or to prevent the election of someone. They must be able to defend the integrity of their system, or the whole exercise will be a laughing stock.

Malicious code can be slipped in to their operating system, do its dirty work, and then erase itself so that it will be undetectable. This can be done anywhere along the line, from the original programmer through everyone with access to their server. A security guard could do it with a USB at night. BTY will they have one server in one location, or more than one in different locations? How will physical access to their server be controlled?

Who, or what company, set up and will operate their Internet voting server? How can we be sure there won't be another DC-like hack?

Are they using "open source" software – that is, code that any computer scientist can inspect for its integrity? If they are offering the public open source code, how do we know that it is the same code running their server? They could pull the ole switch arue.

Before the election, folks will want to know how they are planning to protect themselves from a denial of service attack (DOS)-- i.e., a zillion computers all call in at once and jam the system? Will they have an intrusion detection capability? The system in DC claimed to have such capability, but it failed. The Board of Elections did not learn about the intrusion by Halderman until voters called in to complain about the football fight song.

How can they insure the one person, one vote principle? That is, how will they prevent anyone from voting early and often? Checking voter registration will be a nightmare, and may be impossible in many cases. They could have over twenty million voters. They will need fifty million votes to out vote the majors! How on Earth can they be sure that each one votes just once? Can they defend against "program voting," or "robo voting"?

Suppose they deny the vote to someone because they say she isn't registered, or otherwise eligible? How will they defend themselves from a law suit (for breach of contract, or for damage to reputation, or emotional distress)? Will every voter have to sign a universal waiver of all their rights?

Who will be in control of the vote count? What are their checks against insider shenanigans – i.e., who is watching them? Is it somebody from outside the AE inner circle, or do we have to trust the inner circle to be honest?

Do they plan to have someone from outside their inner circle who can have access to all of their inner circle members, and later vouch for the trust-worthiness of the AE team?

Good luck w/ the interview! And good luck to AE! (They'll need it)


William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.

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