The New York Times has published a good article about the Volkswagen fraud. In brief, Volkswagen put fraudulent emissions-control software in its autos. The cars passed government tests for years, all the while spewing pollution in real-world use.
That happened. There’s nothing hypothetical about it.
It shows us what corporations can do with the computers they sell to us.
Now consider these facts:
- Only three companies' computers count 80% of America's votes. One of them, (ES&S) counts about 50%.
- More people have more motive to manipulate elections than anyone has to manipulate auto emissions.
- IT-naïve local election officials are less capable of detecting fraud in pre-election tests than air-quality regulators are capable of detecting fraud in emissions-control tests.
And the government tests didn't even catch it. The hack was discovered by graduate students who bought a car and tested it on the road.
But in elections, no one can perform a real-world voting-machine test. Voting machine companies and election officials maintain too much secrecy.
We have to be honest with ourselves. Local election officials—bless their hearts—will never be able to manage or test their computers well enough to deter or detect any fraudulent software. At least not before the polls close.
We must demand that our election officials do what every other computer-dependent manager does: Check their computers’ output for accuracy while there is still time to correct any errors. Nothing else can protect our right to self-government from computer fraud and error.
We need genuine, reliable outcome-confirming audits of our election results, and we need them NOW.
And no, we do not want to wait, like auto regulators did, until some grad students discover that our software has been hacked for years.