I would like to thank the writer of the Dec. 19 letter, "If ballots
are good enough for Iraq." As a software architect and a former hacker,
I would like to shed light on this very important issue.
A team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology got together to try
to hack one of the biggest producers of said voting machines. It took them just
a few days to crack the system, undetected, and change results at two key points.
The company went back, spent over six months redeveloping the software, to no
avail, it took the team even less time this time around.
I am shocked that more people in my industry are not speaking out about this
critical issue. How can we have a republic, and be represented, if our votes
and voice are not tallied?
A software developer knows that his greatest threat is not planning for the
unthinkable. Unfortunately, the Chaos Theory is omnipresent, and the interaction
of software and hardware, even when perfectly worked out, has a chance to fail.
Those of you who ever had Windows 95/98 know of the dreaded blue screen of death,
a term used to describe the system crashing.
If a company like Microsoft, which has hundreds of elite programmers, billions
in assets and a corner on the operating system market can't get it right, what
makes you think some company out there can?
I urge you all to contact your representatives, and ask for a paper trail.
Unfortunately, depending on the point of attack, even that will not do much,
but it is a start.
Just because we are in the digital age does not mean we should forget all the
brains it took to get here. Don't let them fool you into, as the previous letter
writer put it, "taking their word for it."