Monday, November 13, 2006

Brennan Center: Spokesman: too early to give up on DREs

Critics Split on Whether to Abandon DREs
Marc L. Songini

November 13, 2006 (Computerworld) -- E-voting critics mostly agree that touch-screen voting systems have serious flaws, but many disagree on whether such machines should be abandoned.

For example, Michael Shamos, a professor who specializes in e-voting issues at Carnegie Mellon University, said that although DRE touch-screen systems have problems today, their ease of use and other qualities make them worth fixing.

Shamos called on vendors to “make more-reliable equipment” so the technology can safely be used in elections.

On the other hand, several critics urged that touch-screen machines no longer be used in polling places and called on election officials to use only optical scan systems...

...Justin Levitt, counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, which follows voting technology issues, said it’s too early to give up on DRE technology.

“Just as we shouldn’t have rushed to put new [e-voting] systems in place, we should not be rushing to take them out of commission,” he said. “It’s way too early to be making blanket statements about the merits of e-voting as a whole

Odd, that Levitt said it's too early to give up on DRE technology in light of the Center's devastating report...

USA TODAY Reports on Long-Awaited Landmark Analysis from Computer Scientists, Security Experts Released by the Brennan Center…

E-Voting 'Poses a Real Danger to Integrity of National, State and Local Elections' According to Study (No, Really?!)
A long awaited study of electronic voting machine security by computer scientists and security experts has been released this morning by the Brennan Center of Justice at the NYU School of Law.

Analysis finds e-voting machines vulnerable

WASHINGTON — Most of the electronic voting machines widely adopted since the disputed 2000 presidential election "pose a real danger to the integrity of national, state and local elections," a report out Tuesday concludes.

There are more than 120 security threats to the three most commonly purchased electronic voting systems, the study by the Brennan Center for Justice says. For what it calls the most comprehensive review of its kind, the New York City-based non-partisan think tank convened a task force of election officials, computer scientists and security experts to study e-voting vulnerabilities.

Among the findings:

• Using corrupt software to switch votes from one candidate to another is the easiest way to attack all three systems. A would-be hacker would have to overcome many hurdles to do this, the report says, but none "is insurmountable."

• The most vulnerable voting machines use wireless components open to attack by "virtually any member of the public with some knowledge and a personal digital assistant." Only New York, Minnesota and California ban wireless components.

• Even electronic systems that use voter-verified paper records are subject to attack unless they are regularly audited.

• Most states have not implemented election procedures or countermeasures to detect software attacks.

Here's the complete Executive Summary [PDF] of the Brennan Report.

UPDATE 6/30/06: The complete Brennan Center for Justice report is now posted here [PDF]. Their press release announcing it is here.

Summary Brennan Center report

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