Are file hashes used in voting machines?


In computer science file hashes are a great way to determine if an electronic file has been tampered with.

Do voting machines software used in the USA use file hashes in any way to determine if the votes have been tampered with?


Posted 2016-05-20T13:32:10.950

Reputation: 333

Question was closed 2016-05-20T17:25:00.907


I really like this question, but there's so many different brands of voting machine that I don't think it's possible to answer. Here's one study from ten years ago about one specific machine, for example.

– Bobson – 2016-05-20T13:53:05.527

It seems to me like a good way to hold those slippery politicians accountable in voting and in law making, as this is how one differentiates between filenames (labels) and actual code content (laws). – leeand00 – 2016-05-20T13:57:10.197

I like where this is going, SE wise, but @bobson has a point. There are many different kinds of machine. Also, my guess is this isn't the community to answer this question. – The Pompitous of Love – 2016-05-20T14:01:30.200

2This question might be allowable if it were rephrased to include more detail regarding the political implications of file hashing the user is interested in, and perhaps some politically relevant background information. A lot was made in the press about automated voting machines during the Bush/Kerry election season, and that was definitely political rather than technological in focus (people worried about voter fraud etc). However, it's not made explicitly clear which of these two subjects the focus of an answer acceptable to @leeand00 would concern. The question needs editing. – Peter David Carter – 2016-05-20T14:12:46.727

@PeterDavidCarter-Poulsen I think that's the issue; people are focusing on the politics rather than the mechanics of that which determines the political outcome. People need to be educated about hashes and what they are used for; mainly determining if a label and actual substance match up without reading something in it's entirety. In what way do you feel I should rephrase my question? – leeand00 – 2016-05-20T14:37:01.417

2How you rephrase the question is up to you, but if your question is along the lines of 'does Politics.SE pay too much attention to the politics rather than the mechanics of what determines political outcomes?' you'd be better off asking in P.SE Meta. If it's more that you think the general population might be illiterate on the mechanical aspects of politics, maybe a new question on that? As it is, if you had some detail in the question as to how a hash relates to the electoral process (as in your above comment) this would give the less mechanically minded more of an immediate understanding. – Peter David Carter – 2016-05-20T14:55:47.507

3@leeand00 - I voted to close this as too broad, but on second thought you might actually be asking too narrow a question. Rather than asking "Are hashes used", you might try asking "What procedures (if any) are used to verify voting machine software?" It's a broader question, but it's also more answerable. – Bobson – 2016-05-20T18:50:22.073

@Bobson Based on what I know of security, the question is definitely too narrow. Hashes aren't a security mechanism, they're a building block that can be used by people designing a security mechanism. Trying to figure out about tamper detection by asking if the machine uses a hash is like trying to figure out if a bookshelf will stay up by asking if it uses Phillips head screws. – cpast – 2016-05-21T01:32:03.460

This might be more of a question for - maybe you can find a security professional who is familiar with voting computers to tell you about their security features.

– Philipp – 2016-05-21T12:05:42.260

@Philipp Alright if anybody has enough rep please send it there. – leeand00 – 2016-05-21T12:07:13.527

@leeand00 Only moderators can migrate questions between stackexchange sites (except for a few selected destinations per site, but none are set up for politics stackexchange yet). It would be quicker if you delete your own question and then re-ask it on security se. – Philipp – 2016-05-21T12:08:26.480

@Mustang Naw Dick Cheny and his Artifiscal heart was the real power behind the throne. – leeand00 – 2016-05-22T02:24:04.487

No answers