Re: "E-Vote: Ohio Election Systems Have Critical SecurityFailures, Says Secretary of State" (Ed's occasional clippingservice)

From: Ron Olson <ron_at_caseohio_dot_org>
Date: Tue Dec 18 2007 - 20:09:09 CST

The Ohio report also touches briefly on the need to replace the DRE's in
Cuyahoga county asap.

If there is a Open Source Optical Scan alternative available now, let me
know and I will try to inform the right people.


-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of
Edmund R. Kennedy
Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2007 10:46 AM
To: Open Voting Consortium discussion list
Subject: [OVC-discuss] "E-Vote: Ohio Election Systems Have Critical
SecurityFailures,Says Secretary of State" (Ed's occasional

This should come as no surprise to most readers of this list. Still, it is
nice to get confirmation.

E-Vote: Ohio Election Systems Have Critical Security Failures,
Says Secretary of State
Dec 17, 2007, News Report

Ohio's electronic voting systems have "critical security failures" which
could impact the integrity of elections in the Buckeye State, according to a

review of the systems commissioned by Secretary of State Jennifer

"The results underscore the need for a fundamental change in the
structure of Ohio's election system to ensure ballot and voting system
while still making voting convenient and accessible to all Ohio voters, "
Secretary Brunner said Friday in unveiling the report.

"In an era of
computer-based voting systems, voters have a right to expect that their
system is at least as secure as the systems they use for banking and
communication," she said.

The Report

The Evaluation &
Validation of Election-Related Equipment, Standards & Testing report, known
is a comprehensive review of voting systems revealing startling findings on
voting machines and systems used in Ohio and throughout the country. The
study tested the systems for:

Risks to vote security
System performance, including load capacity
Configuration to currently certified systems specifications
Operations and internal controls that could mitigate risk.

The $1.9 million study, paid for using federal funds, was structured to
two teams of scientists, corporate and academic, to conduct parallel
of the security of the state's three voting systems -- Election Systems &
Software (ES&S), Hart Intercivic and Premier Election Solutions (formerly
Diebold) -- in both voting and board of elections environments. Separate
research was conducted on each voting system's performance, configuration
operations and internal controls management. A bipartisan team of 12
board directors and deputy directors advised the study and evaluated all
reports, participating with the secretary in making recommendations for

While some tests to compromise voting systems took higher levels
of sophistication, fairly simple techniques were often successfully

"To put it in every-day terms, the tools needed to compromise an
accurate vote count could be as simple as tampering with the paper audit
connector or using a magnet and a personal digital assistant," Brunner

The researchers in the Ohio study didn't address the issue of
probability of attack, leaving that to the determination of state and local
officials. The researchers commented that with the lack of technical
measures in
voting system design, its integrity "is provided purely by the integrity and

honesty of election officials."

"It's a testament to our state's boards
of elections officials that elections on the new HAVA mandated voting
have gone as smoothly as they have in light of these findings," Brunner

Testers looking at the performance of the voting systems used in
Ohio and in many locales throughout the country, identified numerous risks
election integrity ranging from minor to severe, according to the

Also, those examining how voting systems were configured in the
field found risks such as the use of materials like memory storage and
paper that had not been certified by the voting system manufacturers; a lack
standardized equipment testing and that revisions to voting system software
all systems and counties were not documented or tracked, the review

Secretary Brunner has presented
recommendations and options to address these findings to Gov. Ted Strickland
legislative leaders for their consideration. Among the top recommendations

Eliminating points of entry creating unnecessary voting system risk by
moving to central counting of ballots
Eliminating Use of direct recording electronic (DREs) and precinct-based
optical scan voting machines that tabulate votes at polling locations
Utilizing the AutoMark voting machine for voters with disabilities. This
machine "reads" the bar code on a blank ballot and acts solely as a ballot
marking device, allowing voters, especially those with disabilities, to mark

ballots with little or no assistance, preserving the secrecy of their ballot

Requiring all ballots be optical scan ballots for central tabulation and
effective voter verification
Maintaining "no fault" absentee voting while establishing early (15 days
prior to the election) and Election Day vote centers (of the size of five to
precincts), eliminating voting at individual precincts or polling places of
than five precincts
Requiring all special elections (issues only) held in August 2008 to be
voted by mail (no in-person voting, except at the board of elections, for
issue-only elections held in August 2008)

Cuyahoga County Primary Election Remedy

With a swift indication
for state funding assistance, Cuyahoga County could move to a central-count
optical scan voting system in time for the March 2008 primary election by
leased DREs for precinct- based voting by persons with disabilities and
purchasing high-speed optical scanners (with compatible server and software
voting booths) for optical-scan voting.

This option has been estimated
to cost between $2 million and $2.5 million. All purchased equipment could
transfer to a vote center voting system for use in November 2008, and extra
voting booths not needed for vote centers could be redistributed to other
counties migrating from DRE to optical scan central count vote centers. The
county would be responsible for printing a sufficient number of ballots for
March primary election. If this option were approved, purchases would need
to be
made immediately, with reimbursement applied for by the secretary of state
the Ohio General Assembly to reimburse the Cuyahoga County commissioners for

equipment purchases.

The EVEREST study builds upon
previous studies conducted around the country on voting systems, the Ohio
secretary of state's office said. The study of the ES&S systems, however, is

the first of its kind, according to officials.

The Ohio study used
testing done by both researchers from academic institutions including the
University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University and University of
California at Santa Barbara, as well as corporate security personnel from
such as Systest Labs of Denver and MicroSolved Inc. of Columbus, Ohio. The
Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus served as project

Researchers in the Ohio study had access to the computer source
code provided by voting machine manufacturers as well as access to much of
equipment and documentation, the Secretary of State's Office said.

Thanks, Ed Kennedy

10777 Bendigo Cove
San Diego, CA 92126-2510 
Work for the common good.
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Received on Mon Dec 31 23:17:06 2007

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