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Fight Song Changes DC Election Procedures | News

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Fight Song Changes DC Election Procedures
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- A plan to help DC voters who are in the military and stationed abroad, and other voters who are working abroad ,has just been de-railed by student hackers who have demonstrated security weaknesses in a computer program designed to allow those voters to cast their ballots online.

The DC Board of Elections and Ethics is testing a process that would allow absentee voters to download a ballot, fill it out, and file it, all online.

It invited the academic computer community to test the safety of the program, and some students at the University of Michigan proved up to the challenge.

"We essentially said 'go at it, tell us where we're wrong, tell us where our holes are,' and somebody was successful in showing us where our holes were in one component of this... (the) component of digital return," said Paul Stenbjorn, the Chief Technology of the Board of Elections.

"A computer science professor at the University of Michigan had given his students a challenge to be able to hack into the system, and they succeeded and they embedded a file that told us exactly who they were. It was the University of Michigan fight song," Stenbjorn said.

As a result, DC voters abroad during next month's general election will be able to download a ballot from the web, but they will have to mail it back the old-fashioned, and for now, safer way.

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