Eight of the nation's top cybersecurity and voting systems experts warned in a letter sent to California's Secretary of State on Thursday night that "emergency action is warranted" in response to a recent leak of key voting system software used in nearly 60% of state jurisdictions amid CA's ongoing Gubernatorial recall election.
The bluntly --- and urgently --- worded, 3-page letter [PDF] from the longtime experts in this field to CA Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber calls for a specific type of public, post-election audit as the "one critical action" that should be announced immediately, in response to software recently stolen from Mesa County, Colorado and Antrim County, Michigan. The software in question, Dominion Voting's Election Management System (EMS), was released over the Internet for broad download during a so-called "Cyber Symposium" run by Trump supporter, conspiracy theorist and pillow impresario, Mike Lindell three weeks ago. The EMS software, used in both CO and MI and many other states, including CA, is used to manage virtually every aspect of elections, from ballot creation to tabulation. Forty of California's 58 counties, according to AP's coverage of this matter tonight, use a version of the Dominion EMS that, according to the experts' letter, while "not identical" is virtually the same with only "relatively minor" differences.
"The release materially elevates threats to the trustworthiness of the ongoing California recall election and to public trust in the election," the experts inform Weber, as they urge her to, in advance of the election, mandate a robust statewide post-election audit in each county in the state.
The computer scientists explain that "a statewide risk-limiting audit (RLA) of trustworthy paper ballots...can substantially mitigate these threats," as posed by the recent breach. They define "trustworthy" as hand-marked paper ballots with a secure chain of custody, and advise that Weber mandate RLA's to both to ensure accuracy of computer-tallied results of those ballots and to offer confidence to the public in the results, no matter the outcome of the September 14th GOP recall targeting Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.
One of the letter's signatories, Prof. Philip B. Stark of UC-Berkeley, is the inventor of the well-regarded RLA protocol. It consists of a manual, public tally of a certain percentage of ballots as devised by the protocol to gain scientific certainty in the computer-tallied results. Stark recently discussed the alarming new security breach on The BradCast, comparing this release of proprietary election software into the wild as akin to having a life-sized, identical version of a bank and its vault with which to practice breaking into it...