Monday, May 3, 2004

E-Voting Oversight Overwhelms U.S. Agency

By Rachel Konrad, The Associated Press, May 3, 2004

AP's Rachel Konrad reports on the upcoming Election Assistance Commission hearing. Details:

Wednesday, May 5, 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

EPA Headquarters

1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Ariel Rios North Building

Room 3000, Rachel Carson Great Hall

Washington, DC

California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley will be addressing the EAC, along with a number of other speakers representing election officials, advocacy groups, and vendors.


Excerpts from the AP story:

SAN JOSE, Calif. - As alarm mounts over the integrity of the ATM-like voting machines 50 million Americans will use in the November election, a new federal agency has begun scrutinizing how to safeguard electronic polling from fraud, hackers and faulty software.

But the tiny U.S. Election Assistance Commission says it is so woefully underfunded that it can't be expected to forestall widespread voting machine problems, which would cast doubt on the election's integrity.

The commission - which on Wednesday conducts the first federal hearing on the security and reliability of electronic voting - laments its predicament in a new report.

"We've found some deeply troubling concerns, and the country wants to know the solution," said DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., a Republican and former New Jersey secretary of state named by President Bush in December to lead the agency.

The Washington, D.C. hearing will focus on the security risks of touchscreen machines, which computer scientists say cannot be trusted because they do not produce paper records, making proper recounts impossible. Despite reassurances from the machines' makers, at least 20 states are considering legislation to require a paper trail.


NASED plans to transfer its certification authority to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is supposed to update the decade-old standards the labs use to make sure voting equipment is secure and reliable.

But that also is on hold because NIST "did not receive funding to support the work," the commission report says.

"I wish the EAC luck, but oversight of these systems is illusory," said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation. "As long as federal voting system standards are voluntary, voters across the country will not have the peace of mind they need to feel confident in their voting systems."

Currently certified by NASED to test all voting hardware for U.S. elections is a Huntsville, Ala.-based division of Wyle Laboratories Inc. All software is tested by two other entities - a Huntsville, Ala., lab operated by Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Ciber Inc., and Denver-based SysTest Labs LLC.

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