Atención con la automatización electoral

Durante año y medio viví en la ciudad de Bethesda, Maryland, muy cerca de Washigton DC, justo en la época en que se realizaron, entre otras, elecciones de Gobernador; apenas pude visitar un par de centros para ver el proceso, pero recuerdo que se presentaron muchos problemas con las maquinas de votación, similares a los que vivimos aquí, retrasos, fallas, etc.
Pero eso no quedo allí y mas tarde surgieron criticas muy fuertes al sistema electrónico de votación empleado, debido a su vulnerabilidad y que trajo como consecuencia la apertura de una investigación por parte de la Legislación del Estado.
El sistema es el touch-screen, que es el mismo sistema que fue seleccionado para Venezuela. Les copio mas abajo, a continuación de este mensaje, un articulo reciente del Washington Post sobre este problema. Quienes quieran profundizar más en el tema les recomiendo estos Web site:
1)  que es el del Board of Elections del Estado de Maryland, donde hay un informe sobre los riesgos del sistema
2), que es el de la empresa que fabrico las maquinas y automatizo el proceso; y
3), que es un resumen del problema que algunos "hackers" causaron al sistema en Maryland.
Al problema que les señalaba ayer, con la carta que el abogado Ricardo Antela le envió al rector Jorge Rodríguez, a la polémica entre los dos rectores el día de hoy y las declaraciones del Gerente de Smartmatic, hay que sumar ahora todas estas dudas técnicas que están surgiendo. Saludos
Ismael Pérez Vigil.

Md. Voting Machines Vulnerable, Firm Says
 By Nelson Hernandez 
The "Red Team" members attacked Maryland's new electronic voting system ruthlessly. They picked locks, yanked on wires, ripped out monitors and hacked into central computers. One agent even slipped a rubber keyboard into his polling booth to do his dirty work.

With cool efficiency, the computer security professionals did what they were hired to do: They gained control of the system, corrupting vote counts and deleting election results.

But the assault on Maryland's new computerized, touch-screen balloting machines, manufactured by Diebold Election Systems Inc., was not real: It had been ordered up by the state Department of Legislative Services, which hired a consulting firm to expose vulnerabilities in voting machines that have become increasingly controversial as the November presidential election approaches.

 Maryland has agreed to spend $55.6 million on the machines, which face their first statewide trial in the primary election barely a month away.

 Maryland lawmakers learned the results of the attacks in a report issued yesterday by the department and the consulting firm, RABA Technologies LLC. In two hearings, a consultant assured lawmakers the machines would be "worthy of voter trust" in the March 2 primary, but outlined physical weaknesses and electronic vulnerabilities that would allow a determined hacker to corrupt or destroy election results.

Removable memory cards inside the machine can be tampered with if a lock is picked or if one of thousands of keys is stolen. If hackers find the phone number of the central computers used to compile vote totals, they could easily break into the system and tamper with results or introduce worms and viruses, said consultant Michael A. Wertheimer, a former National Security Agency analyst.

 "You are more secure buying a book from Amazon than you are uploading your results to a Diebold server," said Wertheimer, recommending several changes to increase security.

 Linda H. Lamone, the administrator of the Maryland State Board of Elections, assured lawmakers that the board would comply with many of the recommendations but said that some of them would be impossible to put in place before the primary.

  "I don't disagree with what they say -- they're the experts," Lamone said after the Senate hearing. But, she added, "I think it's a very good system."

 The report clearly rattled lawmakers and others skeptical of the voting machines.
  "Every nightmare scenario we envisioned is coming true," said Cheryl Kagan, a former state delegate from Montgomery County and one of the strongest critics of the technology when it was being debated by the General Assembly. "We said Maryland would be a guinea pig, that this was untested technology, that there would be security problems. We said we didn't want the state to be on the risky cutting edge. And here we see a dozen hackers undermine our entire election process with just a month to fix it."

 The legislature is considering a measure requiring a paper backup to verify computer vote totals. "I want to have confidence beyond a reasonable doubt," said Del. Anne R. Kaiser (D-Montgomery). "How else do we do it?"

 The department's audit, ordered by the House and Senate in October, urged adoption of a series of security measures to protect the system from attack, including placing "tamper tape" over locks and vulnerable parts of the voting machine, and a new policy of keeping the modems used to transmit vote totals turned off until they are required.

 Lamone welcomed the recommendation, saying, "We're going to put tamper tape on everything." But she said another recommendation, that software patches be applied to the machines to bring them up to date, would be impossible before March.

 Henry Fawell, a spokesman for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who championed the new machines, said that "the governor welcomes the additional input from the legislature. . . . It is absolutely critical that the State Board of Elections closely monitor the machines and implement the recommendations."

  Maryland officials became concerned about the voting machines in July after Johns Hopkins University researchers found numerous problems with the Diebold software. Ehrlich asked for a review by a computer science research firm, which suggested several fixes. Legislators then asked their analysts to conduct their own study.

 Problems have also surfaced in Virginia, where the machines were first used in several counties, including Fairfax, in November. On Election Day, many of the devices crashed in Fairfax, causing long lines. Some vote totals were not known until the next day because of glitches in the tallying software. State election officials conceded that the machines were certified without a comprehensive security or software review.

 Staff writers Matthew Mosk and David Cho contributed to this report. 

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