No Confidence in Current E-Voting Systems

The mismanagement and lack of accountability in electronic voting systems development here in America is truly frightening: Wired News: E-Vote Machines: Secret Testing

The three companies that certify the nation’s voting technologies operate in secrecy and refuse to discuss flaws in the ATM-like machines to be used by nearly one in three voters in November.

Despite concerns over whether the touch-screen machines can be trusted, the testing companies won’t say publicly if they have encountered shoddy workmanship. They say they are committed to secrecy in their contracts with the voting machines’ makers — even though tax money ultimately buys or leases the machines.

I find it grotesque that an organization charged with such a heavy responsibility feels no obligation to explain to anyone what it is doing,” Michael Shamos, a Carnegie Mellon computer scientist and electronic voting expert, told lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

The system for “testing and certifying voting equipment in this country is not only broken, but is virtually nonexistent,” Shamos added.

Although up to 50 million Americans are expected to vote on touch-screen machines on Nov. 2, federal regulators have virtually no oversight over testing of the technology. The certification process, in part because the voting machine companies pay for it, is described as obsolete by those charged with overseeing it.

The mere fact that most of these machines are built by companies led by individuals with very close ties to the Bush Administration should be enough cause for alarm. Couple that with the fact that they are unwilling to prove security or allow for a physical paper trail backup is unacceptable and calls the validity of the whole election process into question. As a digital security professional, this whole thing makes me very nervous. And it’s sad, because this could be a great thing if the policies and practices surrounding electronic voting systems development weren’t so suspect. I am going to vote absentee until this issue of accountability is addressed and I can feel very confident that there is no reasonable chance of error or election fraud associated with electronic voting systems. And you should too, no matter what your party affiliation might be.