Citing Security Concerns, California Limits E-Voting
California has placed tough restrictions on the nation's top electronic voting machine makers in the upcoming 2008 presidential primary, citing reports of security vulnerabilities in the devices that could jeopardize the integrity of the elections.
The decision comes roughly a week after a team of security experts from the University of California issued a report stating that all of the systems harbored physical and cyber security vulnerabilities that could allow miscreants to modify election results or render the machines unusable.
Many of the companies' systems already are used in local California elections. But according to a decree issued Friday by California's Secretary of State Debra Bowen, few of those systems will be allowed in polling booths in next year's primary.
"All of the voting systems studied contained serious design flaws that have led directly to specific vulnerabilities, which attackers could exploit to affect election outcomes," Bowen said.
According to the Sacramento Bee, "Bowen's actions will force 21 counties to shutter most of their touch-screen machines. Those counties, who use machines made by Diebold Election Systems and Sequoia Voting Systems, will instead ask most voters to fill bubbles on paper ballots to make their selections, a method known as 'optical scan.' The counties will be allowed to keep one electronic voting booth in each precinct to accommodate disabled users. Counties and manufacturers must install a series of security measures in order to keep even one booth, ranging from a reinstallation of software to extensive auditing procedures."
Christopher Drew of The New York Times reports that "the machines made by Diebold Election Systems and Sequoia Voting Systems could be used only in early voting and to meet voting-access requirements for the disabled. Another touch-screen model, made by Hart InterCivic, can be used more broadly, she said. But all three of the systems can be used only under rigorous security procedures, including audits of the election results."
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