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Comment Because it looks like a cover-up (Score 4, Insightful) 382

The relevance is that the FBI granted immunity to the only two people in this saga who knew what really happened to the government-owned records, and those people took the fifth when testifying. So, it looks like an official cover-up.

FBI Director Comey said that "no reasonable prosecutor" would have prosecuted the case, yet he grants immunity from prosecution. Why? If no one is going to prosecute, then immunity makes no sense. The purpose of granting immunity to a small fish is so you can prosecute a bigger fish.

Further, why have these IT folks gone even beyond their protection against immunity to refuse to testify? What could they possibly say that would be prosecutable? Nothing.

Everyone is staying quiet. As long as no one says anything, everyone is protected.

Comment It shouldn't matter until it matters (Score 0) 629

Speaking as an older person, I can attest that life does, indeed, suck as you start to get older. However, it takes time -- sometimes decades -- between the time when something starts to go south and the time when you really just can't do it anymore.

So for both our elderly candidates, no doubt there are many things they can't do anymore. Parkinson's is just one problem of many. When it really becomes an issue, then it matters. Until then, just keep that drug handy, your feet firmly on the floor, and hold on to the handrails.

Comment Tried using Box at work, got mixed results (Score 1) 9

It might just the way we're set up at work, but getting Box to sync on a Mac has always been problematic. I almost always wind up going to the web site and manually downloading and uploading the files I want to work on.

By contrast, Dropbox sync has always worked very well for me. I've used the Dropbox software on an amazing variety of devices, and it works perfectly every time.

Comment Re:Simple Solution: Back to the Paper-Based Ballot (Score 1) 531


No one trust human beings to count hundreds of millions of individual pieces of paper, tally up dozens of markings, and come to anything like the same number even two times in a row. We invented machines to REMOVE humans from the equation.

The benefit of a paper ballot is that it is a second, parallel data protocol, and thus can serve as a true audit.

Comment Re:Ballot stuffing isn't how you steal an election (Score 1) 531

Spot on. Election fraud is a non-trivial problem, and people have been working on securing it for generations. The biggest risk is allowing people who get elected from deciding how an election is run. In any state where choosing an election district is a political act, that is a huge risk. Unfortunately, only a handful of states use a non-partisan process. The second biggest risk is in letting elected officials define the voting registration rules. In any state where the major parties are not basically in balance, an attempt will be made to skew the results. The courts can and do push back, such as happened recently in North Carolina. And, voters can rebel if the rules are really unfair. Until recently, the federal government was also involved in the Southern states, but federal oversight actually makes things more complicated and less trustworthy, not more.

Comment Re:Easy way to avoid the issue (Score 1) 531

You folks need to volunteer to run an election sometime so you can understand how an election is secured. I am a volunteer poll worker in Virginia. We use a deep defense-in-depth strategy to protect against fraud. Fraud is a non-trivial problem that is technically difficult to solve, because it can take so many different forms and because there are so many people involved. We are dead serious about election integrity, and at least in Virginia, we do hourly audits as an election proceeds. If we are off by even 1 voter in our audit, it is a major event with an immediate inquiry.

When I read about Russia sowing distrust, I nod my head because not many people understand how elections are run. It is easy to be distrustful of something you don't understand. But when I read about Russia actually being able to do anything material to effect the counting itself, I laugh because it would take such a massive effort that it would actually be easier and more reliable to just use normal bribery to get what you wanted. Something like the Clinton Foundation is the way to do it, that's a marvel of efficiency in terms of hooking up money with political outcomes. Even better that it stays just on the right side of the line, legally (well, at least "provably", which is really the crux of the matter.)

One of these days, I need to write that book on the election process. I became a volunteer more than a decade ago after reading one of these articles on hacking voting equipment. I was curious about how feasible that really was, and was very, very impressed with just how difficult it would be to actually do it.

Comment Re:How women are portrayed in movies (Score 2) 321

"Jane Got A Gun", a western starring Natalie Portman, is finally streaming on Netflix. Now, there's a move where the woman is not only more beautiful than average, but more extreme in every trait!

Where [bang]! Is [bang]! My [bang]! CHILD [bang]!

Yikes! She sure made me a believer in that character. Actually because Portman is really much more beautiful than average, they wrote that into the script and made it a plot element. Pretty smart.

A very enjoyable movie. I don't care a whistle about gender equality in movies. I only care whether the movie is a good one.

Comment Re:I am a poll worker volunteer, this is bunk (Score 1) 217

Thanks for the link to Appel's blog, that is pretty interesting. The seals we use in Virginia are not adhesive, they are pull-tight plastic that go through two physical loops. We seal the compartment to the flash drive on the scanner, the case on the scanner, and the locking rails that connect the scanner to the top of the ballot box. But, as Appel points out, any time you are leaving equipment unattended, you run the risk of someone gaining access to the machine, defeating the seal, and making mischief. It's an interesting problem, because it is definitely easier to distribute the scanning equipment to the precincts ahead of time. But maybe that is too much of a risk. Hmm.

Comment Re:Do you know what works? (Score 1) 217

Millions of people vote at once, and the results have to be counted, certified, and then shared with the national media within hours. Machine-counting is the only way to do that. Would you trust human counters to count millions of pieces of paper reliably? I wouldn't. People are terrible at repetitive tasks. But ANY machine can be hacked. The scanners of course have source code, and operating systems with drivers and all the rest of the threat surfaces of any general-use computer. In Virginia, the scanners don't have hardware network interfaces at all, so that removes one category of threat (but only one.)

Truly securing vote counting is a non-trivial task, and takes a pretty deep defense-in-depth approach to do well.

Comment I am a poll worker volunteer, this is bunk (Score 5, Informative) 217

I am a poll worker in Virginia. From the very scant details on this particular hack, the apparent claim is that you can vote more than once by "resetting" the machine while in the booth and not touching any equipment. Well, if it is even technically possible to pull this off, within an hour we'd know that the votes in that precinct were off, because we do an hourly audit of the of the number of people who check in to vote vs. the number of votes that are cast. When we are off by even a count of 1 it is a major event, and triggers an immediate investigation. Any kind of mass attempt to defraud the count would be caught immediately. And, nearly 2 million people are eligible to vote in Virginia, so you'd have to pull off an enormous hack across multiple precincts. You'd most certainly wind up canceling the election, not swaying it.

Virginia does not use direct-recording voting machines any more, we use machine-counted paper ballots. We decertified all our direct-recording machines two elections ago when it was discovered that in a couple of precincts the wireless local area network between machines were running with default administrative passwords. The scanning equipment we use is not networkable, and it is sealed with numbered seals. I do not believe it is possible to even do the hack suggested by the article any more.

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