Saturday, October 30, 2004

it's not time for e-voting

Electronic voting machines were supposed to have provided a seamless voting process this time, but they have only fed concerns about snafus on Election Day. The touch-screen machines, which will be used by about 30% of voters, have been shown to be vulnerable to tampering, to break down and to lose votes or record none at all. Worse, in every state where they are used except Nevada, the machines produce no paper trail of votes. And e-voting machines can't do recounts. On a second go-round, they simply repeat the outcome they offered the first time.

Diebold, the leading manufacturer of e-voting machines, suffered the indignity of having its home state of Ohio disqualify its machines because of suspect technology. A December 2003 report by Compuware Corp., a widely respected software and computer-services firm, found at least four security weaknesses in Diebold's AccuVote-TS. Most distressing: anyone who lays his hands on a voting supervisor's card could access the system and tamper with results. A 2003 Johns Hopkins University study found that hackers could devise their own smart cards and vote multiple times or alter voting results. A Diebold spokesman insists that the company has addressed the problems of AccuVote-TS, but neither Ohio nor California is buying it. California decertified 14,000 Diebold machines earlier this year.


"The reason people trust elections is that they can see what's going on," says David Dill, a computer-science professor at Stanford University and founder of the Verified Voting Foundation. "With electronic voting, the handling of the ballots, putting ballots in the ballot box and counting of votes—all of that is hidden inside computers where nobody can see what's happening. [That] leaves you really at the mercy of the machine."

Time - October 24, 2004
What Could Go Wrong This Time?
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