E-Voting News and Analysis, from the Experts

Monday November 01, 2004

Wired Story on Certification

Filed under: — Felten @ 1:36 pm PST

The Federally mandated certification of e-voting systems does little to ensure their accuracy and security, according to a Wired News story by Kim Zetter.

Here’s a sample:

In 1996, a federal testing lab responsible for evaluating voting systems in the United States examined the software for a new electronic voting machine made by I-Mark Systems of Omaha, Nebraska.

The tester included a note in the lab’s report praising the system for having the best voting software he had ever seen, particularly the security and use of encryption.

Doug Jones, Iowa’s chief examiner of voting equipment and a computer scientist at the University of Iowa, was struck by this note. Usually testers are careful to be impartial.

But Jones was not impressed with the system. Instead, he found poor design that used an outdated encryption scheme proven to be insecure. He later wrote that such a primitive system “should never have come to market.”

But come to market it did. By 1997, I-Mark had been purchased by Global Election Systems of McKinney, Texas, which in turn was purchased by Diebold in 2002. Diebold marketed the I-Mark machine as the AccuVote-TS and subsequently signed an exclusive $54 million contract to supply Georgia with the touch-screen machines statewide. In 2003, Maryland signed a similar agreement.

Last year, computer scientists found that the Diebold system still possessed the same flaws Jones had flagged six years earlier, despite subsequent rounds of testing.

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