Was the Halifax Election Stolen?

June 4, 2013
in Category: Technology Privacy Surveillance, Videos
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A review of documents I obtained through a recent access to information request to the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre.

Rob Wipond

Thank you for reading.

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  1. ByStander

    Do you have a point there Rob?

    I love the “could have” game, let’s play another one. Could the paper-only election in [choose a county] have been stolen? Can you prove that it wasn’t?

  2. Rob Wipond (author)

    Yes, we could easily prove that the paper ballots in the Halifax Regional Municipal elections were all validly and correctly recorded. We would simply get the paper ballots and re-count them one by one — which actually occurred in one or two ridings in Halifax, I noticed, overseen by a court process. If anyone were to present any reasonable suspicion that, say, an entire ballot box got stolen and replaced with fake votes, there is an audited trail of people and signatures to account for every movement of every box. That’s the way we have long validated elections worldwide.

    However, you try to find even one shred of comparably reliable evidence to validate the Halifax election. I asked for it, and nothing was offered. In fact, during those official recounts in Halifax, no one had any ability whatsoever to “check” the accuracy of the online votes — the online votes had to be taken at face value, as if nothing could possibly have gone wrong, and those were over half of all votes.


  3. Chris Cates

    Excellent video Rob! Most computer experts around the world agree that we do not yet posses the technology to properly handle internet voting. There is no transparency, no way for any company to perform a proper independent audit, and no method of doing any recount. The more internet voting is used the more you read news reports about how it was rigged, hacked, cyber-attacked, or failed due to technical problems. Does this sound like the “wave of the future” to you? We need to work hard to protect our democracy by keeping technology out of it. A hand counted paper ballot is the only way we can ensure our democracy can last through future generations. For more information on the inherent risks associated with internet voting see my website: http://countingthevote.ca or follow on Facebook: https://facebook.com/countingthevote or Twitter: https://twitter.com/countingthevote!

  4. Rob Wipond (author)

    It’s refreshing to hear your voice, Chris! That’s what I keep hearing from knowledgeable technical people, so I don’t know who is convincing these politicians it’s all okay… Great to see your website, keep up the good work! I’m planning a bigger article on this topic and will definitely get back in touch with you if/when I get working on it.

  5. ByStander

    Really Rob? You are certain you can prove that?
    – Can you prove no one replaced paper ballots with his\her own ballots?
    – Can you prove no took a ballot box and replaced with his?
    – Are you certain no one “took” few ballots to offset the results?

    You can count and recount those ballots and yet you simply cannot know for sure.

    I am not going to defend Scytl but this “the sky are falling” approach is a bit childish.

  6. Rob Wipond (author)

    ByStander: Of course we can! Where do you live? Haven’t you ever voted in Canada before? Polls are generally large rooms with a dozen or more randomly selected, independent people conducting the process and watching over each other. Other observers are allowed. There’s a very strict procedure for how paper ballots are issued, filled out, accounted for, and placed into boxes. The boxes themselves follow an audited trail of signatures in all their movements. Recently, in fact, in one BC riding one ballot box was misplaced, and there’s an entire investigation underway to figure out what happened.

    So I’m not saying that no fraud of any kind could ever possibly occur in paper ballot voting in Canada. But when comparing the possiblities of fraud in that context to those presented by internet voting, there’s a meaningful and important discussion to be had about questions of ease, scale and degree.

    Please give me even one iota of evidence that the Halifax election had anything even close to that level of security as I’ve described with the paper ballots. Review the latest documents from Kevin McArthur that I’ve posted, then give me something other than, “HRM and Scytl told me so, and I believe them, and conversely I believe Rob is being childish.”

    And then the only question I have is, if you were going to be worried about the security of internet voting, what would it take to make you personally worried? Because so far, most of your position seems to be predicated on simply not caring one way or another, regardless of what independent internet security experts may say.

  7. ByStander

    I’ll be honest, I am not Canadian and never voted in Canada so no, I haven’t seen the security measures in the voting place. However, the long list of security procedures you mentioned above, resemble the same list of security procedures the online voting folks have (SSL, encryption, access control, audit trials, receipts, Firewalls, DoS prevention, etc). So both systems have in place the best measures for security but non can claim to 100% prevent fraud. Strangely, only the digital world is criticized for it.

    Additionally, I disagree with the statement that its much easier to hack\alter digital submission than the paper one. The required skill set, the cost and means required to hack digitally indicates differently.

    Let’s be clear, I am not here to defend Scytl; I think they were extremely negligent not enforcing SSL on their log-in page, but to say that online voting is not secure because of one company sounds wrong to me.

    Look, at some point in history people claimed that digital print is not to be trusted because you can never trust a machine to print the text the author intended. Fast forward couple of hundreds of years and in the early 90s of the previous century people claimed no one would buy online because its not safe. Then is was online baking.

    Now its voting.

    Lastly, to answer your question what I am worried about. Well, first of all, I do care and I would love to vote online. Specifically, vote using my phone, from bed, half asleep and using only hand. To feel comfortable doing it that I would need to see a fully audit-able evoting system. And if I am to worry about something it would be human part of e-voting (social engineering if you will).

  8. Rob Wipond (author)

    Well, Scytl claims it does 90% of the e-voting elections in the world, so that’s the “standard” we’re working with right now.

    You are using a reverse, dismissive, metaphorical form of “the sky is falling” yourself. I could make similar comparisons: At one point they claimed they’d developed secure copyright protections…

    Again, there is a very important difference: There is a huge, vast world of government-funded, organized crime-funded, and individual hacker-created efforts to circumvent digital security systems on the internet because the pay-offs of doing it and getting away with it are astronomical and still growing, including stealing from banks, stealing credit cards, attacking infrastructures, stealing personal information, and stealing entire elections. (And currently the penalties for getting caught doing those things are usually negligible, and the expertise and funding for policing agencies to monitor online fraud is paltry.) There’s nothing of this kind in relation to paper ballot voting.

    I’ll put a challenge to you: Find me any actual bona-fide independent experts in internet security, who have never been and aren’t being paid by internet voting software developers or by a government agency vested in defending internet voting, who have a lot of confidence in the safety of internet voting. Because honestly, I haven’t found any. It’s not the security experts who speak confidently about internet voting; it’s people who don’t really understand the technical issues. That’s what I’ve been finding.

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