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By Caron Carlson  |  Posted 2004-07-19 Print this article Print

Some of the VCIA Acts proponents said that although it enjoys growing support, it has been fettered largely by lawmakers unwilling to acknowledge that the Help America Vote Act unintentionally resulted in hasty state purchases. "Its a combination of benign neglect and fear of some members raising questions about the election and skepticism about the legitimacy of the problem," said one source.

Simons put it more bluntly. "Nobody wants to admit a mistake," she said.

For some computer scientists, adding printers to DRE systems to create paper trails is an improvement, but it isnt sufficient to create confidence in an election. Some say the best option is to throw out DRE machines and start over.

"[States] should ask for their money back," Simons said.

Diebolds AccuVote-TS Ballot Station is in place in about 50 percent of the counties that are using electronic systems this year, and it was revealed last summer to be vulnerable to several simple attacks.

About another 6 percent of the counties using electronic machines purchased equipment made by Election Systems & Software Inc., of Omaha, Neb., whose vice president of customer support, Todd Urosevich, is the brother of Diebolds Election Systems division president, Bob Urosevich.

IT officials for the Republican National Convention said technology will play a bigger role than ever in this years RNC. Click here to read the story. In April, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley decertified Diebolds newer AccuVote-TSx system, having determined that the hardware and firmware failed to get federal qualification. State officials are working to certify AccuVote-TS machines in time for the fall elections.

Click here to read about the controversy over voting technology in California. "Some of our biggest criticisms are not really fixable," said Aviel Rubin, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, whose research team found numerous security flaws with the AccuVote-TS.

Diebold spokesperson David Bear said the products will evolve with customer demand. Even the democratic process is subject to market pressures, he said.

"Whether you do or dont have paper receipts is a question for election officials. We will do what is asked for. Were in a market-driven economy," Bear said. "It wouldnt be a technological hurdle to modify [internal printers] to serve in a different function."

As time runs out before the upcoming presidential election, some computer scientists said they are nervous. Popular confidence in the elections integrity will likely depend on how close it is, Rubin said—if it is a landslide, he said, he probably wont be very concerned.

Check out eWEEK.coms Government Center at for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on government and politics.


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