Monday, October 25, 2004

60 Minutes to broadcast story on e-voting, Wednesday, October 27

CBS News: Is E-Voting Secure?

This Wednesday, October 27, "60 Minutes Wednesday" will broadcast a segment on electronic voting, and the concerns about paperless voting systems' vulnerability to software bugs. The segment will feature interviews with many prominent computer scientists working on electronic voting reform, including CVF Board member David Jefferson.

Here are excerpts from the article on the CBS web site promoting the story:


One of the 29 states using the new electronic voting is Florida. Charlotte Danciu's father ran for the Palm Beach city council in 2002, the first election that used the new electronic machines. He lost the election, but what upset Danciu even more were the calls she received from voters after Election Day.

"There was this elderly woman on the phone. and she's like, 'Miss Danciu, you don't know me but I kept trying to vote for your dad last night,'" recalls Danciu.

"'I kept pushing his name on the screen and the opponent's name kept registering.' People were calling and telling me that they would touch the screen, and it just wouldn't do anything, and they would call over a poll worker, who would do such things as punch the machine, hit the machine, unplug the machine."

Despite the poll worker's alleged attempts to get the machines to work on election night, Danciu asked for a recount. "The supervisor's position was that, 'Well, when you push this button, the computer will recount,'" says Danciu. "Well, it just re-tabulates and spits out in a nanosecond what it said the nanosecond before. There is no recount. There's no physical evidence to recount."

Without physical evidence, the computer runs the same data through the same software and, therefore, gets the same result every time. "Do people really want to get a different answer?" asks Conny McCormack, who runs elections in Los Angeles County.

"What we saw four years ago in Florida was a recount that was done where people got a different answer, chad[s] fell out and the numbers were different. This shocked people. The recount doesn't match and yet, in electronic, the recount matches and everybody's critical of that."

One of the critics of e-voting security is David Jefferson, California's top technical adviser on computer voting. He calls voting a national security issue and worries about the possibility that a rogue programmer could corrupt the votes in thousands of machines.

"The electoral weapon of mass destruction, if you will, would be if you were able to modify the software at the source where the vendors write it and insert either a bug or some piece of malicious logic that was distributed to every state that used electronic voting machines," says Jefferson.

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