Computer Expert Who Hacked D.C. Voting System, Changing Votes, to Testify Before D.C. City Council

Oct 07, 2010, 17:05 ET from Common Cause

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The University of Michigan computer science professor who led a successful hack of the District's new Internet voting platform for military and overseas voters will testify before the D.C. City Council in a public oversight hearing Friday morning. The D.C. Board of Ethics and Elections designed a "Digital Vote By Mail" system in which overseas and military voters could receive blank ballots and cast them over the Internet using PDF files. During a "test" period, Dr. Alex Halderman and a team of students were able to infiltrate the election system within 36 hours and gain complete control over the server, reporting that they were able to change ballots at will. Professor Halderman and his team also re-programmed the D.C. Internet voting system to cause users' computers to play the University of Michigan fight song, "Hail to the Victors" after a ballot was cast on the site.

Computer experts have long warned that security risks inherent to the Internet could make voting online a national security concern and many urged the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics not to adopt an Internet voting program. Yet this election The New York Times estimates that nearly 3 million voters in 33 states could cast ballots over the internet using email and efax as state election officials have moved to implement online voting programs despite the known security flaws.

Cyber security experts and election integrity groups Common Cause, Verified Voting and Voter Action encourage the online delivery of blank ballots to overseas voters, but warn that returning voted ballots over the internet is just too risky to adequately ensure that a voter's ballot will actually count as cast.

Hearing and Press Availability Details

What: D.C. City Council Committee on Government Operations and the Environment Public Oversight and Roundtable Hearing

Who: Dr. Alex J. Halderman, University of Michigan

Susannah Goodman, director of Common Cause's Reform Program

Pam Smith, president of Verified Voting

When: Friday, October 8, 2010, 10 a.m.

Where: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.

Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest, and accountable government that works for the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard. is a nonprofit, nonpartisan lobbying organization championing reliable and publicly verifiable elections. Founded by Stanford University Computer Science Professor David Dill, the organization supports a requirement for voter-verified paper ballots for all voting technology, including electronic voting machines, to allow voters to inspect individual permanent records of their ballots and election officials to conduct meaningful recounts and audits.

Voter Action is a national non-profit, nonpartisan 501 (c)(3) organization that seeks to ensure election integrity in the United States through legal advocacy, research, and public education. They aim to protect an open and transparent election process, one in which our elections at the federal, state, and local level are accessible and verifiable.

SOURCE Common Cause