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The Daily Tar Heel

Officials Forsee No Glitches for Online Voting

The program, which will be accessed through Student Central with PID and personal access code numbers, debuted at UNC this fall during Homecoming elections and generated minimal technical problems.

"We had a 15-minute shutdown during the Homecoming election, but that type of problem will not happen again," said Frederick Hill, vice chairman of the Board of Elections.

In examining the security of the system this time around, members of the Board of Elections said they made a list of possible pitfalls and checked it twice, testing and retesting the system for any loopholes that could offer hackers or others a chance to abuse the program.

"We have double checked it for all sorts of problems," said Jeremy Tuchmayer, chairman of the Board of Elections. "The program is run on two secure servers, which the University operates. Because students log in with their unique PID and PAC and because the program runs a self-test to verify the submitted information, the program is very secure."

The Board of Elections will be able to view the name, class, district and PID number of every voter, as well as the time and date their votes were cast and the IP address of the computers they used. "The voter log we have will help us identify any suspicious activity," Tuchmayer said.

Tuchmayer also emphasized the privacy of the voter despite all of the information the program collects. "Because cookies are used to scramble the information, there will be no way to connect an individual and his or her vote," he said.

Other safety measures include flags put in place by AIS allowing only current students, not alumni with active PID numbers, to vote. Webslingerz Inc., the Carrboro-based company that created the program, also created an additional security check.

Joel Dunn, director of AIS, believes the application will function with the same level of security as any other University program on Student Central. "The online voting program is on our own production servers and is secured and protected just like any University data and processes," he said.

Should technical problems arise during the election, Dunn said it would be business as usual for AIS. "We are not anticipating any problems, but if we do encounter them, we will handle the situation with standard response. We work hard to maintain the integrity of the University by providing the best help and response possible."

And Tuchmayer said that UNC has the most up-to-date security technology available.

Hill also said the program is as safe as possible. "We can't say it's completely unhackable, but the technical people we consulted assured us that if it were to be hacked into, we would know," he said. "If necessary, we do have provisions in our rules that allow for a re-election, but if everything works as we think, that won't be needed."

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