|Report Raises Electronic Vote Security Issues
By JOHN SCHWARTZ
Electronic voting machine technology used nationwide is "at high risk of
compromise" because of software flaws that could make them vulnerable to
computer hackers and voting fraud, according to a review released
yesterday. The report also said, though, that proper safeguards could help
to mitigate the risk.
The new report, the second concerning voting machines from Diebold Election
Systems, was conducted for the state of Maryland after researchers warned
this summer that the Diebold AccuVote-TS voting machines, more than 33,000
of which are used in 38 states, may be vulnerable to manipulation. Maryland
is adopting the machines for elections.
Diebold executives and Maryland officials said the report vindicated their
view that the machines could be used reliably.
The new report, said Mark Radke, a Diebold executive, "really confirms our
stance that our equipment is as secure, if not more secure, than any other
electronic system in the marketplace." The company is working to improve
the security even further, he added.
In a letter yesterday, James C. DiPaula, secretary of the state's
Department of Management and Budget, recommended to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich
Jr. that the state advance a plan which he said "will correct specific risk
factors and ensure reliability of the election process."
The earlier study, released in July, said Diebold software contained
numerous security gaps that could be exploited to let people vote many
times or to change votes after the fact. Aviel D. Rubin, a computer
security researcher, and colleagues analyzed Diebold source codes that had
been leaked to the Internet by critics of electronic voting systems.
Yesterday's report, by the Science Applications International Corporation,
said that Mr. Rubin's conclusions about the company's software were
"technically correct," but that the researchers "did not have a complete
understanding" of Maryland's use of the system.
In an interview yesterday, Mr. Rubin said he was mystified to see that the
state planned to use Diebold machines despite the report.
"It almost seems as though the people writing the Maryland action plan
either did not read or did not understand the S.A.I.C. report," he said.
"What they should say is, `We're going to put these systems on hold until
they say that these things are safe to use.' "
James T. Smith, the Baltimore County executive, who has opposed the move to
electronic voting, said the new report should stop the state from using the
"For two years, Baltimore County has warned, `Iceberg ahead!' and now
independent experts have warned that it's a gigantic iceberg," Mr. Smith
said. "Maryland should not say, `Damn the iceberg, full speed ahead.' "
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company