Monday, August 6, 2007

E-Voting Still Deplorable

According to a recent eWeek report, problems are still rampant with e-voting systems in the United States.

Evidently the office of California Secretary of State Debra Bowen on July 30 published investigation results showing that three major e-voting systems are liable to having their accuracy, security and/or integrity compromised.

You can view the California report in Adobe/PDF format at this link.

Until we get politics out of the voting process things will not improve. We need voting machines that are manufactured and supplied by non-partisan companies. We need a full and complete paper audit trail of each person's vote, with a slip showing the actual vote held both by the voter and the voting authority. (Of course, none of this removes the need to have the appropriate non-computer security in place to protect the paper audit trail.)

For national elections we need a consistent interface and mechanism to avoid confusion and fraud. And we need to ensure that all personnel overseeing the actual voting process are trained in how to use the machinery - - and how to explain that usage to voters of all ages.

Finally, there needs to be a contingency plan in place whenever e-voting is used. If the machines are compromised or broken, the electricity goes out, or some other eventuality occurs, there should be a manual process ready and available to move in place so that voters are not delayed, or worse, prevented from voting.

What say you?

1 comment:

csm said...

More bad news on voting: Election Systems & Software (ES&S) sold nearly 1,000 electronic-voting machines that were not certified to five California counties in 2006, Secretary of State Debra Bowen said Tuesday.

"Given that each machine costs about $5,000, it appears ES&S has taken $5 million out of the pockets of several California counties," Bowen said in a statement.

ES&S sold 972 of its AutoMark Phase 2 Model A200 even though the company never submitted that version of the AutoMark machine to Bowen's office for certification in California, she said. ES&S delivered hundreds of the Model A200 to the California counties before it was certified by federal election officials in August 2006, she said.

Bowen will seek the maximum penalty, $9.7 million plus the original $5 million cost of the machines, if ES&S is found to have broken the law, she said in the statement. Under California law, Bowen can seek damages up to $10,000 per violation, counting each voting machine as a separate violation.

A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Sept. 20.

"While ES&S may not like California law, I expect the company to follow the law and not trample over it by selling uncertified voting equipment in this state," Bowen said.

Another version of the AutoMark, known as Phase One or Model A100, was certified for use in California in August 2005. Fourteen California counties use AutoMark e-voting machines, Bowen said. ES&S sold the Phase 2 machines to five counties: San Francisco, Colusa, Marin, Merced, and Solano, she said.

ES&S spokespeople weren't immediately available for comment.

Under California law, no voting system can be used in the state until it has been certified by the Secretary of State's office. Vendors also are required to get the secretary's approval of any changes to a certified voting system. If the Secretary of State's office determines a certified voting system has been modified without approval, it can ask a judge to impose penalties.

The Secretary of State's office is required to hold a public hearing and give 30 days' notice before formally asking for penalties to be imposed on a voting-machine vendor.

Earlier this month, Bowen mandated new security standards for the state's e-voting systems, following an independent review that slammed the security of the technology. ES&S machines were decertified because ES&S was late in providing access to their products.