Stanford professor slams e-voting

VerifiedVoting.org

Related Links

Although many states and counties see touch-screen voting machines as an answer to the hanging chad controversy of the 2000 presidential election, a Stanford University professor says the systems may have flaws.

The touch-screen devices, known as direct recording electronic (DRE) machines, provide no verifiable paper trail to ensure the machines count votes correctly, said David Dill, a computer science professor.

Computer bugs or intentional tampering could change votes and shroud elections in doubt, Dill said. "This is a case where the Emperor has no clothes," he said, questioning the machine's integrity.

Dill, who established a Web site called VerifiedVoting.org to publicize the problem, said the solution is to require a "voter-verifiable audit trail," which would provide voters and officials with a paper record to validate ballot choices, in case a manual recount occurs.

Deborah Seiler, a representative for Diebold Election Systems, a subsidiary of Ohio-based Diebold Inc., said Georgia and several California counties use the company's DRE machines. She said Maryland announced a $55.6 million contract to install 11,000 machines statewide.

The DRE machine, she said, does not permit voters to overvote, which is casting ballots for multiple candidates in a race.

Local election officials subject the machines to rigorous acceptance check procedures and conduct their own logic and accuracy testing before the machines are deployed, she said. They also incorporate encryption to secure the voting data. Printers can be attached so voters can check their choices and poll workers can also keep final tallies.

But Dill said federal and state certification standards are weak, and, he said, there should be independent security audits of the machines. The public is kept in the dark about such security measures, he added.

Glenn Newkirk, president and cofounder of InfoSENTRY Services Inc., an information technology consulting and project management company, said DRE machines are still in the minority for nationwide use, and there is no evidence of problems.

He said voting equipment testing will eventually be the responsibility of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. In the meantime, states could pass laws requiring the chief state election officials to "prepare and maintain an industry-standard, information systems security management plan for every vote tabulation system in the state," he said.

Featured

  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.