• United States



by CSO Contributor

The Electronic Road to the White House

Jan 01, 20052 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

E-voting is fantastic

or it’s problematic. During the Nov. 2 U.S. general election, electronic voting machines performed nearly flawlessly, or they experienced serious problemsdepending on whom you talk to. Here are some states where the process broke down.

North Carolina: Storage issues. More than 4,500 votes lost in Carteret county, according to the Verified Voting Foundation.

Florida: Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties logged questionable results. More votes were registered for President George Bush than were expected by post-election analysis, over 100,000, according to researchers at UC Berkeley.

Louisiana: E-voting machine malfunctions. Machines misrecorded votes, often switching votes from Kerry to Bush, and some ballots were already filled out when voters logged in to the voting machines, according to the Verified Voting Foundation.

Among the most serious problems raised by e-voting security advocates:

n Back-end vote tabulators can be easily hacked.

n Votes can be lost when machines crash.

n There’s no way to conduct audits of e-voting results.

n There are no verifiable paper trails.

“Electronic voting is a technology that has no safety net,” says David Dill, a Stanford University computer science professor and founder of the Verified Voting Foundation. “[E-voting vendors] are basically assuring that these computerized voting numbers are flawless.”

But defenders of e-voting tell a different story:

n Machines eliminate over-voting.

n Machines reduce under-voting.

n Machines allow voters to review their choices before submitting a final vote.

According to Bob Cohen, senior vice president of the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), which counts e-voting vendors among its members, there were reports of fewer than 1,000 problems, which he says are minor compared to the estimated 40 million voters who used e-voting machines on Nov. 2. “You have a handful of incidents reported,” Cohen says. “The electronic voting problems were extraordinarily small compared to the big picture.”