Vote, With No Confidence

From: Arthur Keller <arthur_at_kellers_dot_org>
Date: Tue Oct 07 2003 - 00:12:02 CDT

"Vote, With No Confidence"
Baseline (10/02/03); Cone, Edward

Electronic voting systems, such as the touch-screen machines that
will replace traditional punch-card machines in California for the
Oct. 7 recall election and the 2003 presidential primary, are
problematic for several reasons: They lack a printed audit trail and
there are no guarantees of safety from tampering. Furthermore, the
dedication of e-voting machine vendors such as Diebold to upholding
the security of their products is debatable; a recent Johns Hopkins
and Rice University study found security holes in Diebold machines,
while writer Bev Harris published internal Diebold memos online
indicating that the company is aware of system vulnerabilities. Yet
both state and federal legislation is strong-arming California
counties to switch to paperless e-voting, even though some feel their
current voting machines are adequate. Although there are no major
technical headaches to adding a paper trail to Direct Recording
Electronic (DRE) machines, it does add costs for paper and printing,
and complicates maintenance. Many counties report they are
unconcerned about machines that lack paper ballots--Angela Burrell of
the Orange County registrar of voters says the county will in March
introduce paperless DRE systems from Hart InterCivic. The chief
allure of e-voting machines is the potential cost savings, and
promises that such systems yield a more accurate count. However,
Yolo County clerk-recorder Freddie Oakley observes, "Election
officials are very naive about technology. I'm not paranoid, but I
do believe that 18-year-olds are sitting at home in their camouflage
jammies, hacking these things." SRI principal scientist Peter G.
Neumann warns that the move from punch-card machines to touchscreen
voting is like "going from the frying pan into the fire," and argues
that "lame" standards have been established to guarantee the accuracy
of the new machines.,3959,1306643,00.asp
To learn more about ACM's concerns and actions regarding e-voting,

Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA  94303-4507
tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
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Received on Fri Oct 31 23:17:01 2003

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