Concerns About Fraud Potential Continue to Plague Users of Electronic Voting Machines
Report says flaws must be fixed for upcoming votes
Computerworld - Electronic voting machines will be vulnerable to fraud this election season unless countermeasures are taken, according to a report issued last week by the New York University School of Law.
E-voting devices, such as touch-screen or optical scan systems, are becoming more prevalent nationwide, and most of them are vulnerable to external attack, according to the report compiled by the school's Brennan Center for Justice.
The report was prepared over an 18-month period by computer scientists and voting machine experts working on a task force set up by the Brennan Center to examine voting system security.
Larry Norden, chairman of the task force and an attorney at the Brennan Center, said that over the past several years, half of all manual voting systems in the U.S. have been replaced with electronic devices. Elections officials cite the need to meet the requirements of various federal laws and the need for improved accuracy in installing the systems. However, Norden said, "we've not necessarily adapted our [security] procedures to that new technology."
The report cites some 120 potential threats to e-voting systems and notes that most states have no system in place to detect malicious software attacks.
Ion Sancho, elections supervisor for Leon County, Fla., and a critic of e-voting system security, said the report confirms his worst fears about electronic voting.
On the other hand, Michael Shamos, a professor who specializes in e-voting issues at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, questioned the report's conclusions.
"The fundamental premise of the Brennan report and many activists is that it's easy to rig a machine to throw an election," said Shamos. "It isn't.
"You have to install Trojan horse software that not only swaps votes but does so in a way that won't immediately be obvious from the demographics of the precinct and evades all tests to detect it before and after the election," he said. "No one knows how to do that."
Omaha-based voting device maker Election Systems & Software Inc. last week said it is reviewing the report and couldn't address its specific conclusions.
The report did not go unnoticed in Washington. "This nonpartisan report ... confirms what many of us have believed for years: Electronic machines are all vulnerable to error or manipulation that could change the outcome of elections," said Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), who has proposed federal legislation to tighten the security of electronic voting machines. "We ignore this at our peril," Holt said.
To compensate for the flaws, the report urges elections officials to take a number of steps. They include removing wireless components, conducting random audits of paper records and decentralizing the voting systems' administration and programming.
Norden said there was time to implement these safeguards before November's elections, and copies of the report are being distributed to every secretary of state in the country.
Read more about Government IT in Computerworld's Government IT Topic Center.
This state transportation department uses computer science students from a local university as programming interns, and everyone is happy with the arrangement -- until one intern learns how to bring down the mainframe.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Path Selection Infographic
- Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic
- A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era
- From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- How WAN Optimization Helps Enterprises Reduce Costs
- If you wanted to break down innovation into a tidy equation, it might go something like this: Technology + Connectivity = Productivity. Productivity... All Government IT White Papers
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Mobile Security: Containerizing Enterprise Data In this on-demand webinar, Fixmo's Lee Cocking, VP of corporate strategy, explains why Apple-ization trends like mobility and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD) are driving the...
- Endpoint Data Management: Protecting the Perimeter of the Internet of Things Not surprisingly, "Internet of Things" (IoT) and Big Data present new challenges AND opportunities for enterprise IT. Teams need to harness, secure and...
- All Government IT Webcasts