Letters: Doing things the hard way

One easy-to-write script by any novice database administrator can instantly change or delete votes.

Editor, The News:

Re: A new way (Guest view, Oct. 16).

You wrote “little slips of perforated paper” with more than a hint of scorn. Those slips of paper have a crucial technological advantage over computer records.

I hate to break it to you, but one easy-to-write script by any novice database administrator is all it takes to run across databases to instantly change or delete votes.

One database can hold millions of voting records. One person, one database script, and you could have a completely corrupted election.

Try pulling that off with huge bins of paper ballots all across our wonderful country. Yes, paper could be thrown away or pre-marked ballots mixed in, but with up to 26 million votes, that would require far more significant in-person effort than a mere one or two individuals with access to voting servers.

To the very point you brought up regarding those who worry about hacking or glitches for something as important as a federal election, let me offer the following: Premera Blue Cross – 11 million health records; Home Depot – 56 million credit card numbers; Sony – all emails, including the president; Ebay – 145 million records; Target – 40 million credit/debit card numbers; CIA –WikiLeaks.

Just a few egregious examples of recent hacking.

“What an age we live in,” you wrote. Indeed.

You use the example of Canadian banking websites and online commerce as some type of indication that we’ve got online security all zipped up and now can use it for an arguably even more serious purpose of voting. Are we to infer you’re not one to worry? I wish we worriers could just ignore such blatant examples of hacking and glitches, sleeping better at night like you must.

Walden O’Dell, chief executive of Diebold, was a prominent fundraiser for president George W. Bush. Diebold was making electronic voting machines used during that election.

Do we really want to dangle such a carrot of power and temptation to those high up in the political machine, just so we can feel that voting ‘keeps up’ with space travel and smart phones, or avoid waiting in a line on one of the most important days in four years?

We can do better? Let’s not whine about any inconvenience of Canada’s paper ballot system, which contributes to an increased likelihood of a fair and honest vote, in a world where so many countries are bereft.

And by the way, don’t give software too much credit for being faster than paper. Obama’s healthcare.gov website crashed for several hours when first launched.  Anyone who’s used computers knows that if it can go wrong, it will, especially on a huge scale once every four years.

Michael Stephens

Maple Ridge

 

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