Let’s talk about elections! Except not the American ones, but the Dutch elections, coming up in March.
Concerned about the role hackers and false news might have played in the United States election, the Dutch government announced on Wednesday that all ballots in next month’s elections would be counted by hand.
We haven’t been using electronic voting ever since it was demonstrated the machines were quite easily hackable, but everything higher up in the stack was still electronic – such as counting the paper ballot and tallying up the results from the individual voting districts. The upcoming election will now be entirely done by hand – voting, counting, and tallying, making it that much harder for foreign powers to meddle in our elections.
This switch to full manual voting is taken two days after Sijmen Ruwhof posted a detailed article explaining just how easy it would be to hack our voting process.
Journalists from Dutch TV station RTL contacted me last week and wanted to know whether the Dutch elections could be hacked. They had been tipped off that the current Dutch electoral software used weak cryptography in certain parts of its system (SHA1).
I was stunned and couldn’t believe what I had just heard. Are we still relying on computers for our voting process?
Turns out the “security” of the counting machines and software, as well as the practices of everything around it, is absolutely terrible. The article is an endless stream of facepalms – and really shines a light on just how lacklustre the whole electronic part of the process was, and hence provides an interesting look behind the scenes of an election.