E-voting group invited to hack machines

California Election Systems Diebold Report

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Critics of Diebold’s electronic voting machines will get a chance next week to prove their contention that the systems could be vulnerable to attack. California's Secretary of State has challenged Black Box Voting to try to hack the TSx machines that Diebold is trying to get California to certify.

The testing is set for Nov. 30. Black Box is an advocacy group that bills itself as an e-voting watchdog.

California officials decertified the TSx machines in 2004. However, after Diebold made some improvements, state officials performed further testing and concluded earlier this month that the system meets California's current standards, according to a report provided by Black Box.

For the challenge to the organization, the Secretary of State's office and Diebold provided a specific testing protocol. Black Box is still negotiating the procedures to be used.

The biggest issue is Diebold’s insistence on being involved in setting up the testing procedures, and Diebold’s provision of hand-picked machines, using new voting systems not currently in use in California, according to Black Box.

In October, California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson created a new Office of Voting System Technology Assessment and laid out 10 requirements for vendors applying for certification of systems in the state. The requirements mandate that:

* The system must be federally certified by an independent testing authority approved by the federal Election Assistance Commission.

* Vendors must deposit the system's source code in an approved escrow facility and also provide it to the Secretary's office.

* Vendors must establish county-level user groups to provide annual system review and ensure the systems are accessible.

* Vendor must provide a working system for testing if requested.

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