Saturday, November 26, 2005

Electronic voting machines not secure for 2006 elections

With less than a year to national elections not enough attention is being paid to the vulnerability of American democracy to the dangers of insecure electronic voting systems.

The media hasn't done a good job of covering the problems, but the Government Accountability Office has prepared a 107 page report (pdf download), "ELECTIONS Federal Efforts to Improve Security and Reliability of Electronic Voting Systems Are Under Way, but Key Activities Need to Be Completed " .

From the "Highlights of GAO-05-956 , a report to congressional requesters September 2005"

Examples of Voting System Vulnerabilities and Problems
· Cast ballots, ballot definition files, and audit logs could be modified.
· Supervisor functions were protected with weak or easily guessed passwords.
· Systems had easily picked locks and power switches that were exposed and unprotected.
· Local jurisdictions misconfigured their electronic voting systems, leading to election day problems.
· Voting systems experienced operational failures during elections.
· Vendors installed uncertified electronic voting systems.
Source: GAO analysis of recent reports and studies.

The Committee on Government Reform issued a news release headlined "Davis, Waxman, Sensenbrenner, Conyers, Boehlert, and Gordon React to GAO Report on Security Problems With Electronic Voting Systems" on October 21. Still waiting to hear about that in the news.

Meanwhile, Diebold, the company that supplied electronic voting machines to Ohio for 2004 elections, is trying to get out of North Carolina's Election Transparency Laws.

What you can do...

Spread the word about the GAO report by telling your friends and family, and demanding your local newspapers, TV and radio stations to cover this story in your local news. Let your local elections officials know you're paying attention. Contact them to find out what voting systems will be used in your community and ask how your vote will be protected. Project Vote Smart's state resources page can help you find the contact information.

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