[LINK] Secrecy shrouds US e-vote
brd at austarmetro.com.au
Mon Aug 23 15:12:34 EST 2004
Secrecy shrouds US e-vote
Bill Poovey in Huntsville
AUGUST 23, 2004
THE three companies that certify the US' 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 the presidential poll in November.
Despite concerns over whether the touchscreen machines can be trusted, the
testing companies will not say publicly if they have encountered shoddy
workmanship. They companies said 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
organisation 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
The system for "testing and certifying voting equipment in this country is
not only broken, but is virtually nonexistent," Mr Shamos said.
Although up to 50 million Americans are expected to vote on touchscreen
machines on November 2, US 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 testing firms - CIBER and Wyle Laboratories in Huntsville and SysTest
Labs in Denver - are also inadequately equipped, critics contend.
Federal regulations specify that every voting system used must be validated
by a tester. Yet it has taken more than a year to gain approval for some
election software and hardware, leading some states to either do their own
testing or order uncertified equipment.
That wouldn't be such an issue if not for troubles with touchscreens, which
were introduced broadly in a bid to modernise voting technology after the
2000 presidential election ballot-counting fiasco in Florida.
Failures involving touchscreens during voting this year in Georgia,
Maryland and California and other states have prompted questions about the
machines' susceptibility to tampering and software bugs.
Also in question is their viability, given the lack of paper records, if
recounts are needed in what is shaping up to be a tightly contested
Paper records of each vote were considered a vital component of the
electronic machines used in last week's referendum in Venezuela on whether
to recall President Hugo Chavez.
The Associated Press
Real programmers can write assembly code in any language.
-- Larry Wall
brd at austarmetro.com.au
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