[ISN] Broward Officials Want Students to Try Hacking Mock Election

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Fri Aug 17 2001 - 01:35:45 PDT

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    Published: Aug 16, 2001
    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - Broward County officials considering the
    $20 million purchase of a touchscreen voting system want students to
    try to tamper with the computers during a mock election.
    "One of the biggest concerns raised is whether there is the potential
    for computer abuse, and we really need to see how foolproof or
    tamperproof this equipment is," county commission Chairman John
    Rodstrom said. "If there is a problem, it will happen now or later.
    And some of these kids are pretty smart."
    Broward Supervisor of Elections Miriam Oliphant is pushing for the
    touch-screen system, which records votes on computer discs after
    voters use a video monitor to choose candidates.
    Broward is forced to get rid of the punchcard ballots used in the last
    election. State lawmakers outlawed punchcards as part of an election
    reform package quickly pulled together after the embarrassing
    presidential election.
    Florida was the butt of jokes around the world as the country waited
    for a resolution to the presidential election while election workers
    squinted at ballots looking for dimples, pinpricks or hanging chads.
    Commissioners have two concerns about touch-screen voting: the cost
    and security.
    They want to hold mock elections at high schools and senior citizen
    communities to test computerized voting systems. The commission also
    wants the students to try to hack in during the mock vote.
    Some school board members don't want to send the wrong message to
    students by asking them to break into computers.
    "Hackers in training? I don't think so," said school board chairman
    Paul Eichner. "It's not the image I want for the Broward County School
    Not that there isn't precedent. A student once used a school district
    computer to hack into Canada's version of the CIA.
    Commissioners could also choose a far less expensive optical scan
    voting system, which Oliphant has said would cost the county $7
    million. But Oliphant has said optical scan ballots, on which voters
    fill in a bubble or connect the ends of an arrow, can lead to missed
    votes and mistakes.
    The touch screen test would help show if the computers are as easy to
    use and mistake-free as touted and how easy it is to create a paper
    record of the vote from the computer discs.
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