By Andy Sullivan, Reuters, June 10, 2004
Feds Call for Tougher Restrictions on Electronic Voting
By the Associated Press/FoxReno.com, June 9, 2004
DeForest Soaries, Chairman of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, announced this week his recommendations for improving e-voting security for the upcoming November election.
While Soaries stopped short of endorsing a voter verified paper trail, he did embrace a number of other reforms that demonstrate the EAC and its chairman acknowledge that e-voting poses the kind of serious risks computer scientists and voting reform activists have been bringing to public attention for the past eighteen months. The most important reform Soaries is endorsing is a requirement that vendors make their e-voting source code available to the government agencies that purchase their systems.
Excerpts from FoxReno/AP:
DeForest B. Soaries, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, said he wants election officials to be able to analyze software source code in the electronic systems they pay for, which some vendors have resisted.
"The increased use of electronic voting devices has created security concerns that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission must address," he said in remarks prepared for delivery at a Maryland conference of election officials.
In an interview before the speech, Soaries said the issue of paper ballots that voters can verify -- perhaps the most-debated aspect of the controversy over electronic voting -- requires more study and that calling for such receipts by November would be unrealistic. He said it was possible the panel would recommend paper ballots in the future.
Some critics of electronic voting also want vendors to make their software source codes public so they can be widely scrutinized for security flaws.
Soaries said he wasn't prepared to ask software developers to release such proprietary information. But he said he wants the commission to urge vendors to share their source codes with local election officials who use federal money for electronic voting machines.
Excerpts from Reuters:
"We're recommending that every voting jurisdiction that uses electronic voting do something about security that they have not done before," US Elections Assistance Commission Chairman DeForest Soaries said in an interview.
It could be a printer that creates a paper trail of votes, more advanced technologies like voice identification and cryptography, or a simple random check of the machines on Election Day, he said.
Soaries declined to endorse a specific remedy like the printers, which some advocates say could create a reliable paper trail to guard against malfunctioning machines.
Avi Rubin, a Johns Hopkins computer-science professor who has uncovered security flaws in a Diebold system, said Soaries was constrained by limited resources and a need to avoid alienating local officials who will oversee the elections.
"He knows he can't take giant steps right now, but he took some baby steps and they were in the right direction," Rubin said.