Monday, February 9, 2004

California seeks to improve electronic-voting security

By Elise Ackerman, San Jose Mercury News, 02/05/2004

The Mercury News called county registrars using Diebold voting equipment to see if they had read the new Raba Technologies report commissioned by the State of Maryland. The Raba report found, as did the SAIC and Johns Hopkins reports, serious security flaws in Diebold's GEMS software. Unfortunately, most of California's Diebold registrars were not familiar with the report. Here are excerpts from the Merc story:

Only one county registrar of 14 who responded to inquiries said she planned to implement specific steps recommended by the computer scientists to correct serious security flaws. When contacted by the Mercury News, registrars in only three counties said they had read the report.

Connie McCormack, the registrar of Los Angeles County, the state's largest county, said she did not read the report. But McCormack said Diebold had assured her the report referred to an older version of its software, and that a newer version was more secure.

Elaine Ginnold, assistant registrar of Alameda County, said she also had not read the Raba report but she believed ``the new software is going to have the security recommendations.''

Raba report author Michael Wertheimer, a former senior technical director of the National Security Agency, said his team tested the most recent version of the Diebold software. ``I can honestly say the problems we are describing will not be addressed in any immediate update,'' Wertheimer said.

Kim Alexander, president of California Voter Foundation, a Davis-based election watchdog group, said registrars are too dependent on voting-equipment companies to assure voting security and too dismissive of the concerns that have been raised by computer scientists over the past year.

``The vendors who are in the business of profiting off the sale of voting systems do not have a vested interest in being forthcoming about security glitches,'' Alexander said.

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