E-Voting Security Debate Comes Home

    Date31 Jan 2003
    CategoryForums
    919
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    Should electronic ballots decide the next presidential election? Some respected computer scientists and security experts say the risks posed by malicious hackers, equipment failure or subtle programming errors make fully-electronic voting systems a bad idea. On Friday, they're taking that fight . . . Should electronic ballots decide the next presidential election? Some respected computer scientists and security experts say the risks posed by malicious hackers, equipment failure or subtle programming errors make fully-electronic voting systems a bad idea. On Friday, they're taking that fight to their own backyard, trying to stop local officials from introducing the systems into 5,000 voting booths in the heart of California's Silicon Valley.

    "In all-electronic systems there is absolutely no evidence that the vote you cast goes in correctly," says Peter Neumann, principal scientist at SRI International. "There's no voter-validated record, so Trojan horses or accidents can happen without any evidence that anything has gone wrong."

    Usually featuring touch screens and simple ATM-like interfaces, electronic voting systems gained enormous popularity following the punch card-related glitches of the trouble-plagued 2000 election. By some estimates one out of five votes were cast electronically last November. The systems are not connected to the Internet; instead, voters' ballots are typically stored on an internal hard drive until the polls close. Then they're copied onto another electronic medium -- a portable disk or a non-volatile memory card -- and taken to a central counting facility.

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