This Isn’t The Onion


This could be Microsoft’s most important product in 2020. If it works

ElectionGuard isn’t designed to make voting machines safe from hackers. It’s meant to make hacking them pointless.

Another article on Windows? Oh. Wait.

ElectionGuard is open-source voting-machine software that Microsoft announced in May 2019. In Microsoft’s demo, voters make their choices by touchscreen before printing out two copies. A voter is supposed to double-check one copy before placing it into a ballot box to be counted by election workers. The other is a backup record with a QR code the voter can use to check that the vote was counted after polls close.

With ElectionGuard, Microsoft isn’t setting out to create an unhackable vote — no one thinks that’s possible — but rather a vote in which hacks would be quickly noticed.

Well, they are experts, I guess?

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10 Responses to This Isn’t The Onion

  1. Loathe as I am to admit it (cut me and I bleed 6 colors 😎 Microsoft has made some notable strides in embracing open source (they now let you choose bash as your default command-line environment!) and this does give us the paper trail we need to verify the voting machines are working properly.

    But this doesn’t fix the easy pressure points to ratfuck the elections, like the endless GOP-lead Jim Crow Poll Testing Vote supression Security measuers like requiring more and more esteric ID requirements, closing polling stations, moving polling station, dicking around with the hours (you need a state photo ID, but the DMV in your county is only open from 1:30PM to @:30 PM every other Wednesday in months beginning with ‘J’…), purging voter registraion list etc etc etc.

    Hacking the actual vote count isn’t necessary if you don’t let folks vote in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • antiscience says:

      With respect, I think the idea that -any- voter will have the presence of mind to double-check their “receipts” with the screen, is rank nonsense. And furthermore, I’d be shocked if the software made it easy — e.g., I can easily imagine that for an election for city/state/federal offices, one screen cannot contain all the choices, so the voter will either have to page back/forward thru many screens, or …. just fuck it, I’m done, my kid’s screaming already.

      And this assumes that voting-machine vendors will do their all to make it -easy- to check. I can imagine applications that simply don’t allow paging back to previous screens, b/c hey, once you commit your vote, you’ve committed your vote, done!

      There are things not meant to be done by computer.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Which is why I am hugely grateful tthat our particular voting system is ‘take your #2 pencil and fill in the bubble on the printed form” kind. Of course our local voting authorty, the county recorder’s office, has been firmly controlled by Democratic hands for decades, which is why we still use the bubble forms.


  2. sleeve98 says:

    Why do these things even need to connect to WAN? How can someone hack your network if it’s not connected to anything else? LAN does not have to mean internet-plus-some-local-printers. Are results not ultimately phoned in to state anyway? SOME-one in Jimmy-Earl’s county knows how to SUM() in a spreadsheet. Come on, why is this even a thing?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nothing in the linked article mentions anything whatsoever like this.

      This is software that goes onto the voting machines themselves, which handle the ‘mechanical’ aspects of displaying the candidates and allow the voter to choose. Then the machine spits out two paper copies of the vote: one to be fed into the tabulating machines and another for the voter to check back later to see if the vote has been officially counted and recorded.

      Our own elections here in Baja Arizona are run similarly: our ballots are printed with the candidates, you fill in the bubble and feed it thorough the reader. What we do not have is the ability to later determine that our ballot was actually counted and recorded.

      Click to access 2020%20PPE%20Sample%20Ballot.pdf

      This system actually does provide more security and the autidablility of paper ballots, because it is done using paper ballots for counting, just not filling in.

      Now if we, as a nation were to truly consider ‘election security’ a real thing instead of a smoke screen for voter supression, this would be mandated across the country for every voting district.

      Different companies could make and sell the machines, but they would have to be made to standardized specifications. None of this ‘we’ll backdoor innovate our products’ by the likes of Diebold.


  3. antiscience says:

    I’m an old-skool techie. Meaning, I was on the ARPAnet when cross-country meant 9600 baud on a lucky day. [yes, there’s older than that, but still ….] These techies who think that there solution to election security is “more technology” …. we have a name for them: “FUCKING MBAs”. Oh, and “imbeciles who turned into managers”. Sorry, that’s two names.

    The thing is, a person sufficiently well-versed in a technology is supposed to know when it isn’t applicable. I hear that no amount of antibacterial cleanser will remove Covid-19 from your hands. Gee, maybe it’s because (1) “antiBACTERIAl”, and (2) the point is to get it off your hands, and WASHING removes stuff from surfaces, where mere RUBBING does not.

    Ugh. I’m so disgusted with the jokers who pretend to be part of my community. I want to put ’em all thru the fucking Google S(oft)W(are)E(ngineer) interview. See how many of ’em make it without shitting their goddamn pants. Imbeciles.

    Liked by 2 people

    • antiscience says:

      Sorry, my rage got in the way. Elections, we know how to secure them:

      Make sure/sure/SURE that the thing the voter uses to register their vote, is the EXACT thing that that is tabulated, and that it is permanent and can be re-tabulated.

      –> this invalidates EVERY electronic system. EVERY FUCKING ONE. Because the voter doesn’t express their intent on the PAPER, they do it on a screen which is by its very nature transient/non-permanent.

      It’s not so damn hard. Until “techies” get involved. Damn MBAs. Damn MBAs.

      Liked by 1 person

    • YellowDog says:

      I guess I am even more old skool. I go back to punch cards, and later I had a mail account on ARPAnet in 1980. Each advance in technology meant we had to take more precautions to protect our data. I could go on and on about the steps we took. As a result of my experiences with both hardware and software, I have no faith in electronic voting machines, nor in software that produces paper copies. Voting is too important. There have to be paper ballots, marked by voters, that can be recounted.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. retiredeng says:

    Ahem. More software to gum up the works by “We’re The Bigger Shadow Inc.” What could possibly go wrong?

    Liked by 1 person

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