A prototype voting website, developed by the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, that allows military personnel and overseas voters to cast election ballots online has been hacked by UM students. The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics recently asked outsiders to try and find defects in the system which officials had hoped to use for the upcoming November election.
University of Michigan students rose to the occasion, successfully hacking the system and programming the ballot submission page to play the UM fight song, “The Victors,” upon successful submission.
The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics director of information services, Paul Stenbjorn, said he didn’t bother listening to the UM fight song, but that it was exactly the kind of “hacking” help they were looking for to ensure the site’s security and credibility.
“To be quite honest I didn’t listen to it. I was less concerned with what the file was. Just knowing it was there was there was enough. This is why we did this. This was one of the objectives.”
Because of the UM students infiltration efforts, officials were able to pinpoint the technical vulnerabilities and re-launch an improved site soon after the hack was discovered.
Overseas voters can still download ballots from the site but will not be able to cast them online as the department had originally planned. Instead, they will be required to mail, fax, or e-mail the completed ballots. The site is still a vast improvement over the voting systems of the past few years which included logistical nightmares like mailing ballots directly to overseas voters. However, Stenbjorn hopes to be able to completely restore the online ballot-casting feature by 2011.