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Voting news articles are provided here for research and educational purposes only. We do not review each article in its entirety prior to its posting. Content in the articles themselves and on other websites to which they link may express opinions that are not those of VotersUnite!

Tue, 05 Aug 2003 12:00:00 MST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Tuesday, August 5, 2003
Electronic voting may pose risks
Forget hanging, dimpled and pregnant chads, the new voting threats could be hacking, crashing and rigging. Punch-card voting machines may be problem-prone, but new electronic ballot devices -- which some Utahns might start using next year -- could be cataclysmic. That's the assessment of some experts who fear touch-screen voting will invite risky computer problems. Computer voting terminals are being assailed by professors and technology mavens as vulnerable because votes are not being saved on paper but as bits and bytes on memory cards. "You've got to have perfect computers and perfect software, which we know is impossible," says Stanford University computer-science professor David Dill. "Right now, with the touch-screen computers we have, they're not trustworthy. ... It's an invitation to disaster in many ways."

Tue, 05 Aug 2003 12:00:00 CST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Tuesday, August 5, 2003
POLITICS: Concerns prompt change in state plan
Spooked by reports that new, sophisticated voting machines may be vulnerable to tampering, North Dakota election officials have changed plans to install them within three years. A state blueprint for complying with a new federal voting access law no longer includes references to county use of "touch screen" machines for casting ballots. The machines, called DREs - short for "direct recording electronic" - allow voters to make their ballot choices without marking a piece of paper. Votes are recorded electronically when a voter touches a screen or pushes a button. North Dakota's plan for complying with the federal law has included equipping each polling place with at least one electronic voting machine in time for the 2006 elections. But a committee of election officials and interested observers, which is drafting state plans to meet the federal law's requirements, agreed last week to eliminate its references to voting machines. The change will give officials more leeway to monitor the machines' development and more time to pick the best solution, said Cory Fong, North Dakota's deputy secretary of state.

Tue, 05 Aug 2003 02:00:00 PST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Tuesday, August 5, 2003
Voting Suit Gains Momentum
A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of computerized touch-screen voting systems has moved to a higher-profile venue in federal appeals court. According to Susan Marie Weber, a Palm Desert, California woman who is suing the state for sanctioning voting machines she alleges are open to manipulation, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco indicated this week that it plans to hear oral arguments in her case. The suit, originally filed in 2001, charges that California's former secretary of state and election officials in Riverside County, where Weber lives, deprived citizens of constitutional rights by deploying touch-screen voting systems that do not provide a paper record of each vote. "They're not allowing us to verify our votes," said Weber, an accountant who has been representing herself in the case. She claims that the computerized terminals manufactured by Sequoia Voting Systems and used in her home precinct are more vulnerable to fraud than other accepted voting methods.

Mon, 04 Aug 2003 12:00:00 CST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Monday, August 4, 2003
Voting-machine concerns prompt changes in state plan
"That's the nice thing about having a physical ballot. You can count them," said Mike Montplaisir, the Cass County auditor. "People have problems with DREs because they can't see anything." [...] Montplaisir said he would prefer a paper record of votes cast on touch-screen machines.

Mon, 04 Aug 2003 02:00:00 PST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Monday, August 4, 2003
More Calls to Vet Voting Machines
A recent report that showed touch-screen voting machines could be vulnerable to hackers spurred the National Association of Secretaries of State, a majority of whose members are in charge of their states' elections, to consider whether the standards for the machines should be beefed up to prevent tampering.

Mon, 04 Aug 2003 12:00:00 MST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Monday, August 4, 2003
COMPUTER SECURITY: Searching for the full truth
Cindy Cohn, legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group aiming to protect Americans' digital rights, said DefCon helps inspire hackers to share information they understand with less-aware technology users for the greater public good. For example, she said, an audience of computer programmers and tech experts at a recent University of California, Berkeley forum roared with laughter at the idea of expecting accurate results from new digital voting machines. The audience knew a system flaw would make it easy to manipulate vote counts and alter an election's outcome, she said. "That's something this community knows, but the rest of the world doesn't," Cohn said. "And that's the kind of information that's desperately important to get to other people so they can understand it, because our democracy is at stake."

Mon, 04 Aug 2003 12:00:00 PST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Monday, August 4, 2003
Editorial: Trustworthy Voting
We believe in the power of software and its ability to execute daunting tasks. However, we are also aware that all software has flaws and that, sooner or later, these flaws will appear. Because of this, there are some tasks for which software alone should not be trusted. The process of voting in electoral contests is one of them. [...] We agree with security researchers at www.verifiedvoting.org who argue that there must be a paper audit trail in any election. While software and touch-screens can help avoid selection problems such as hanging chads, they should create a paper document that a voter can verify and that can be stored like any paper ballot. The voting machine should stop at creating the ballot, and standard ballot counting procedures should remain in place.

Sun, 03 Aug 2003 14:38:22 EST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Sunday, August 3, 2003
Computer voting said to have 'serious flaws'
Secretary of State William F. Galvin, who is the state's chief election official, has not certified the new ATM-style voting machines, though they are being used in Georgia and Maryland and may soon be used in California. "I don't think (Galvin) believes that the technology has reached the point with them that they are secure from tampering of any sort," said Galvin's spokesman, Brian McNiff. "Every type of voting system, as part of the approval process, has to be field tested. The touch-screen has not been tested in Massachusetts."

Sun, 03 Aug 2003 12:00:00 EST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Sunday, August 3, 2003
Editorial: A Soft Touch -- for Voter Fraud?
Touch screens do promise important benefits, such as accessibility for disabled voters and voters who don't speak English. But the bedrock requirement of any system is its ability to deliver a correct and verifiable tally. No purely electronic system is fail-safe; most technological experts agree that an old-fashioned paper trail is the best defense against fraud and failure. [...] Some parts of Maryland, such as Baltimore County, have discussed asking for an extension of the deadline to implement the system. Although some requests have already been withdrawn, the state elections office should be open to such appeals. A failure in an electronic voting system could pose a far greater threat than hanging chads.

Fri, 01 Aug 2003 12:00:00 PST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Friday, August 1, 2003
Editorial: Voting and Democracy: The Challenge Ahead
The problems with touchscreen voting machines and the lack of a voter-verifiable paper trail is currently a hot topic. Traveling the Internet like wildfire, the story has recently broken through to the New York Times, NPR and CNN. Fear of computerized voter roll purging and the manipulation of election results has caused tremendous anxiety among election reformers as well as computer professionals. Perhaps just as alarming, some paranoid writers have suggested that the next election is all but lost due to the new technology.

Fri, 01 Aug 2003 12:00:00 EST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Friday, August 1, 2003
Vote fraud in Norfolk not likely, officials say
Britt Williams, the consultant to the State Board of Elections for voting equipment, told the panel that the Johns Hopkins report is flawed. Even if the coding examined by the researchers is from the Diebold equipment, Williams said, someone would need access to computers in a voter registrar's office to tamper with election results. He said the Diebold's system is no more vulnerable to fraud than any other voting machines. Williams is a professor at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. Based on Williams' advice, the three-member Board of Elections voted unanimously to allow Norfolk to purchase upgraded Diebold equipment. However, Chairman Michael G. Brown said he had lingering concerns about the voting machines. "When they get ready to hang the three of us in effigy, you won't be here," Brown told Williams.

Fri, 01 Aug 2003 12:47:24 PST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Friday, August 1, 2003
Electronic Voting Security Flaws: Johns Hopkins Researchers Respond to Diebold Analysis
Diebold Election Systems, whose software was evaluated by the researchers, stated in a July 30 analysis that the company did not believe the types of tampering suggested by the researchers could occur. "Our goal in this project was to call the public's attention to some very serious security concerns that may be overlooked in our rush to adopt new electronic voting systems, problems that could jeopardize the integrity of fair and open elections," said Avi Rubin, technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins and one of the authors of the research paper. "Although we were tempted to stand back now and allow our elected officials and the public to come to their own conclusions, we could not allow some of Diebold's attacks on our research to go unchallenged. We firmly stand behind our findings."

Thu, 31 Jul 2003 15:31:00 PST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Thursday, July 31, 2003
Hack the vote
A report released last week by the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University says the touch-screen machines are Swiss cheese -- full of holes -- for hackers. "Common voters, without any insider privileges, can cast unlimited votes without being detected," the report claims. It's based on an analysis of the software source code for voting machines made by Diebold Election Systems, a division of a company that makes automated teller machines. Someone at Diebold accidentally placed the code on a publicly accessible Internet server in January, resulting in its dissemination around the Net.

Thu, 31 Jul 2003 12:00:00 EST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Thursday, July 31, 2003
Editorial: Taking away paper ballots asks for trouble in close vote
According to a vocal and, until now, largely ignored group of computer scientists, no one really knows what's going on inside the black boxes that count the votes. They may or may not work. They might or might not be compromised. The software is "certified" by federal and state governments under standards that are weak, vague and not finalized, critics say. Nor do political parties, candidates and ordinary citizens have the right to examine the source code behind the software. It's considered proprietary - the company that made the electronic machine doesn't have to show it to the public.

Mon, 28 Jul 2003 00:00:00 PST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Monday, July 28, 2003
Electronic Voting System Is Vulnerable To Tampering
The software believed to be at the heart of an electronic voting system being marketed for use in elections across the nation has weaknesses that could easily allow someone to cast multiple votes for one candidate, computer security researchers at The Johns Hopkins University have determined.

Fri, 09 May 2003 02:00:00 PST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Thursday, May 1, 2003
Voting Machine Leaves Paper Trail
Voting machines that print individual ballots -- an election accessory many computer scientists have clamored for -- are moving a step closer to widespread availability. In response to concerns raised by election officials and security-minded techies, one of the largest makers of touch-screen voting machines has introduced a prototype capable of producing paper ballots. Developed by Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Nebraska, the machine is currently in beta testing, with plans to make it commercially available by July. "The idea is to provide a voter-verifiable ballot," said Lou Dedier, the ES&S vice president and general manager who built the original test model in his garage. Dedier said his mock-up was based on suggestions from elections administrators.

Thu, 27 Feb 2003 02:00:00 PST    Story Here  Archive
Published:Thursday, February 27, 2003
Voting software firm gets sued
In a case calling into question the thoroughness of the certification process for touch-screen voting systems, a former engineer for an election software company has filed a lawsuit against his ex-employer, claiming executives ignored his warnings of potential defects. In the suit, filed in superior court in King County, Washington, software engineer Dan Spillane claims that his ex-employer, voting software developer VoteHere, wrongfully fired him after less than seven months on the job. The suit claims the termination occurred shortly before Spillane had planned to meet with officials of the independent testing authority responsible for certifying voting machines and the U.S. General Accounting Office. He claims the firing was "clearly in retaliation for whistleblowing." Although more than a year and a half has passed since he lost his job, Spillane said he decided to file the suit because he believed it was important to disclose potential defects in voting software applications and in the certification process.

County's voting troubles spur changes nationwide    Story Here  Archive
Seattle Times. January 29, 2003 by Emily Heffter, Times Snohomish County bureau
EVERETT ? Snohomish County's voting-machine problems may end up improving the way the machines operate here and elsewhere.  Two lights that read the marks on Snohomish County absentee ballots were worn out when poll workers fed through November's general-election ballots, company representatives from Sequoia Voting Systems said last week.

County's voting troubles spur changes nationwide (Washington)    Story Here  Archive
Seattle Times. January 29, 2003 by Emily Heffter, Times Snohomish County bureau
EVERETT ? Snohomish County's voting-machine problems may end up improving the way the machines operate here and elsewhere.

Two lights that read the marks on Snohomish County absentee ballots were worn out when poll workers fed through November's general-election ballots, company representatives from Sequoia Voting Systems said last week.

Tue, 19 Nov 2002 02:00:00 PST    Story Here  Archive
A Vote for Less Tech at the Polls
Two weeks after the most highly computerized federal election in U.S. history, a number of computer scientists continue to raise concerns over security risks created by the widespread adoption of touch-screen voting systems. Despite reports of smooth performance on Election Day from the major voting machine manufacturers, many experts remain concerned about fixing potential bugs before states spend billions more on touch-screen systems to automate the election process. While paper ballots, punch cards and lever machines have their problems, a worry among some computer scientists is that the risks presented by touch-screen systems are more insidious because they are harder to detect. Critics of so-called direct recording electronic, or DRE, voting machines, most of which employ touch screens, are particularly concerned about the lack of a paper trail. Although the most widely used DRE machines can at day's end print out at a record of ballots cast, detractors say this is insufficient. Because of the potential for memory glitches or even possible tampering, critics such as Neumann advocate printing a paper record that voters can examine immediately after casting their votes.

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