With another election season around the corner, activists are concerned that electronic voting machines supplied by a handful of American corporations are bug-ridden and easily tampered with, but the road to redress is rough and windy.
May 17 – From serious security flaws that could allow hackers easy access to electronic voting systems, to routine computer malfunctions and undelivered software, state and local officials are one-by-one joining voter-access groups and computer scientists in questioning the reliability of the three major suppliers of electronic voting machines.
The latest security flaw to be uncovered affects thousands of Diebold touch-screen voting machines across the country. Computer scientist Michael Shamos, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and one of the examiners that tested several companies’ machines in Pennsylvania, described the defect as a “misfeature” originally designed by Diebold to let field technicians update machine software quickly.
But, he said, it also would permit someone to upload their own software onto a voting machine with the aim of tampering with election results. Shamos said the problem is the “biggest we’ve ever seen.”
Pennsylvania’s primary was Tuesday and Shamos said he would be at the polls monitoring the electronic tabulations.
Last week, voter-access group Black Box Voting (BBV) released the report of Finnish computer scientist Harri Hursti, who discovered the “back door” into Diebold touch-screen systems earlier this spring when examining machines in Emery County, Utah. Bruce Funk, an Emery County clerk of 23 years, had sought independent analysis of his county’s machines after he discovered numerous problems and was unsatisfied with Diebold’s response.