Studies find coding flaws persist

When California Secretary of State Debra Bowen asked e-voting manufacturers to submit their source code for a review by two university scientists, five of the eight vendors declined.

According to a statement Bowen’s office issued in July 2007, four of those that refused did not intend to have any systems operating in California after Jan. 1, 2008. The fifth vendor intended to take part but didn’t submit its code in time.

Diebold Election Systems (now Premier Election Solutions), Hart Intercivic and Sequoia Voting Systems submitted their code but might have regretted it. The study revealed programming errors that made the software vulnerable to compromise. Perhaps most troubling, the researchers confirmed that the companies had not fixed some problems detected in prior years.

Another document that e-voting critics considered vindication was a thesis written by Rice University Ph.D. candidate Sarah Everett in 2007. Through a series of studies, she found that although voters liked touch-screen machines, fewer than 40 percent noticed when the machine changed their choice sometimes right in front of them.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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