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California Decerties Electronic Voting System - Including the System Used in Maryland PDF  | Print |  Email
By SAVE Our Votes Media Release   
August 08, 2007
Citing Insurmountable Security Vulnerabilities, Secretary of State Disallows Use of Most Touch-screen Machines in February Primary Elections

In a late-night press conference convened just before the midnight deadline for voting system changes before next spring’s primary election, Secretary of State Debra Bowen last night announced widespread decertification of most types of electronic voting equipment used in California.

The withdrawal of certification for the equipment was the result of a complete top-to-bottom review of all election systems used in California. In her campaign for Secretary of State last fall, Ms Bowen, a former state senator, had promised a thorough study of the state’s voting systems, which she set in motion immediately upon taking office last January. The review consisted of four separate studies encompassing all aspects of the system: security, accessibility, system software, and a review of official documents related to the equipment.

“Secretary of State Bowen took the only responsible course of action in light of the seriousness of the study’s findings,” said Robert Ferraro, a Co-Director of SAVE Our Votes, a grass-roots citizens’ group working for Secure, Accessible, Verifiable Elections in Maryland. “This underscores the urgency of replacing our flawed touch-screen voting system with optically scanned paper ballots, as required by Senate Bill 392. Governor O'Malley must make it a top priority to fund Maryland’s transition to a more secure, reliable voting system."

The decertifications will prohibit the use of most Direct-Recording Electronic (DRE) voting equipment, often referred to as touch-screen machines, except for those used in early voting and one in each precinct to provide accessibility for voters with disabilities. These DREs have been conditionally re-approved under stringent conditions for their use, including a requirement to hand-count all of the voter-verified paper print-outs from the machines instead of using the electronic votes tallied by the machine. California already requires each voting machine to provide a voter-verified paper record of each vote for use in audits and recounts of election results.

While many of the reports’ findings reconfirm vulnerabilities revealed in previous studies of Maryland’s voting equipment, some shocked even the computer experts who performed those earlier reviews. Dr. Aviel Rubin, a computer security expert at Johns Hopkins University who scrutinized voting source code from Diebold Election Systems, Inc., in 2003, commented on his blog, “In all cases, the analysts were able to rewrite the firmware on the machines. This means that an attacker could change every aspect of the behavior of the voting systems….There are many other examples of attack that are much more serious than what I expected from this report — and I was expecting a lot.” http://avi-rubin.blogspot.com

The full reports from California are posted here
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