By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2013, 10:34pm PT  

It might be funny, but for the fact that beating back the Internet Voting virus --- even here in California, where it is Democrats who are being dumb enough to push for it, despite warnings from virtually every world-class computer scientist and security expert in the world that it's an insane, non-solvable idea --- but it appears that voting for NBC's show The Voice may have been hacked this week.

According to a statement from NBC tonight:

On this week’s episodes of The Voice, we encountered issues with the systems used for online and SMS [text] voting. We are addressing both issues, and in an abundance of caution are not counting the votes that may have been affected. Telescope, the independent company that administers voting for the show, has certified that removing those votes does not affect the outcome for any team.

Here is how Bev Harris of just described what happened at the top of tonight's show in an email to a group of Election Integrity folks...

The host for TV show "The Voice" began the show tonight with "in the interest of full disclosure..." and explained that due to "irregularities" in the online vote this week, all Internet and text votes had to be discarded. "But it didn't affect the result," he assures us.

In other words: Hacked.

Can we really afford to discard millions of votes in a presidential election if there are "irregularities"?

Whenever there is an e-voting failure, corporate mainstream media tends to downplay it as little more than a "glitch", "hiccup", "snag", or "snafu". So far tonight, they haven't disappointed in their gentle descriptions of the failure that seems to have struck The Voice's voting procedures...

USA Today reports the show was only "marred by voting inconsistencies".

Entertainment Weekly went for the old favorite "snafu", in explaining the failure in the election carried out by "the show's well-established vote-tallying company, Telescope"...

NBC’s The Voice had a voting snafu this week and the show addressed the issue on the air Wednesday night.

Fans trying to vote online and via text message had difficulty casting their votes via the show’s well-established vote-tallying company, Telescope. The network says the issues would not have resulted in a different outcome in terms of which contestants are eliminated. Voice host Carson Daly opened tonight’s live show by bringing up the voting issue and introducing Telescope CEO Jason George. “Tonight we’d like to be completely upfront with you,” Daly said. “We noticed some inconsistencies with this week’s texting and online voting.”

Telescope also manages the voting for shows like Fox’s American Idol and The X Factor. “Our system caught an inconsistency in a portion of this week’s voting data,” George said in a statement. “For fairness, those votes have been removed from Monday and Tuesday’s results, but we want to assure fans and artists alike that this in no way affected the outcome for any team.”

So, even after all of these years, and millions of dollars spent for a secure voting system (which doesn't tend to happen with voting systems in the public sector), the company which ran it couldn't keep whatever happened from happening. They had to throw out thousands --- millions? --- of votes. But, they assure us, it didn't affect the outcome of the voting. Feel better?

We hope to have more soon on the aforementioned, idiotic recent push for Internet Voting in California. For now, however, for a good primer, please see the section titled "NO INTERNET VOTING FOR L.A." in the recent article we published about the decision of Los Angeles County's Registrar of Voting Dean Logan to not use Internet Voting in the new election system he is developing for the nation's largest voting jurisdiction.

Here is just a portion of that section from our article...

We have long detailed the madness of Internet Voting. Among our coverage, we've documented a number of disastrous attempts at Internet Voting systems and the many dangers they pose to security and oversight, as well as the warnings against them by computer science and security experts, and Election Integrity experts.

One need only look back to Washington D.C.'s disastrous experiment in Internet Voting, which almost went live in 2010 for overseas and military voters. The plans to use the system were scrapped at the last minute after it was hacked and completely taken over by "white hat hackers" (University of Michigan computer students and their professor), who had gained such total command of the system in mere hours that they were not only able to change every vote already cast on it during a mock election, but inserted a script into the system to change all future votes invisibly as well. They even modified all of the system's main passwords to thwart similar attempts to hack the system that they discovered to be ongoing by computers from both Iran and China.

There have been many other disasters in Internet Voting --- from a 2012 online Canadian election attacked by some 10,000 computers, to a 2012 CA State University student body election that was hacked by one of the candidates in order to gain control of an annual salary and the student government's $300,000 budget, to this year's embarrassment by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which attempted to use Internet Voting for the first time this year, to disturbing and questionable effect.

The non-partisan election integrity group, posted a "Statement on the Dangers of Internet Voting in Public Elections," signed by nearly a dozen top computer science and security experts with backgrounds in electronic voting systems. The letter explains that "Cyber security experts at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of Homeland Security have warned that current Internet voting technologies should not be deployed in public elections," as they "cannot be properly protected and may be subject to undetectable alteration."

"We conclude that the evidence does not exist to support casting ballots online in public elections," the scientists note. "There are too many unsolved security challenges that have yet to be overcome. In fact securing networks from cyber attack is a major national security concern that is as yet unresolved. Financial institutions, the FBI, the White House, the Department of Defense have all been breached. Major corporations like Lockheed Martin, Sony, Google, Adobe, Microsoft, and Northrop Grumman have also been breached. It is unreasonable to assume that any Internet voting system vendor today can repel a well funded partisan operative or nation state determined to manipulate, disrupt, or violate voter privacy in an online public election."

After the infamous Washington D.C. hack, the scientists who testified about it to a D.C. Elections Committee unanimously agreed that the technology simply doesn't exist at this time --- and likely will not for a decade or more --- to even consider voting over the Internet.

J. Alex Halderman, the University of Michigan computer scientist who led the team that took over the D.C. Internet Voting systems (not long after her also hacked a touch-screen voting system, replacing its voting software with Pac-Man), testified that "the scientific consensus is that Internet Voting is just too dangerous today based on the limits of today's security technology," adding: "Indeed, it will probably be decades, if ever, before the technology is at a level where we can perform voting safely, purely over the Internet."

There is much more in the original story, if you'd like to read more specifics on what actual scientists have to say about the idea of casting unverifiable votes over the Internet.

Other than that, however, Internet Voting remains a great idea! Just as the caller to my KPFK radio show today --- he was a guy who works for Microsoft (since they never have any problems with Internet security!) --- tried, in vein, to explain to me on air this afternoon.

And the endless fight for citizen-overseeable elections in America continues...

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