Security of Electronic Voting

Posted on September 13, 2006  Comments (0)

Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine

This paper from Princeton University examines the security issues involved with electronic voting machines. The The consensus of the computer security community seems to be that they are not secure and should not be used as they currently exist. Yet for some reason they are being used.

It strikes me as similar to the uproar are the butterfly ballot scandal. Then the public learned that every year millions, of ballots were discarded as unusable and neither party had done much to fix the systemic problems. And then, when the problem was brought to the attention of the public, the parties acted as though this were some unforeseeable problem. They knew the system didn’t work and didn’t fix it. It seems to me the current electronic voting machines are an example of continuing this behavior. It would be better if they would listen to the scientists and not use a system which was so susceptible to creating a scandal.

Computer scientists have generally been skeptical of voting systems of this type, Direct Recording Electronic (DRE), which are essentially general-purpose computers running specialized election software. Experience with computer systems of all kinds shows that it is exceedingly difficult to ensure the reliability and security of complex software or to detect and diagnose problems when they do occur. Yet DREs rely fundamentally on the correct and secure operation of complex software programs. Simply put, many computer scientists doubt that paperless DREs can be made reliable and secure, and they expect that any failures of such systems would likely go undetected.

The Diebold AccuVote-TS and its newer relative the AccuVote-TSx are together the most widely deployed electronic voting platform in the United States. In the November 2006 general election, these machines are scheduled to be used in 357 counties representing nearly 10% of registered voters. Approximately half these counties — including all of Maryland and Georgia — will employ the AccuVote-TS model. More than 33,000 of the TS machines are in service nationwide.

Related: large pdf on disenfrancishmentWhat Happened in OhioLieberman Commends Easy Remedies to Disenfranchisement of Election 2000 Voters

Leave a Reply