Thursday, February 24, 2005

Yale Information Society Project weighs in on e-voting in Connecticut

Connecticut is poised to replace its mechanical lever voting machines with new voting technology. The Secretary of State issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) in December seeking electronic voting machines for Connecticut, with or without a voter verified paper record.

But the folks at the Yale Information Society Project have concerns about their state's RFP, and have weighed into the debate. According to an article in the New Haven Advocate, Eddan Katz, director of the Yale program says the RFP is full of "clouds of vagueness" and "unclear specifications." He asserts that paper-based, optical scan voting systems are the most reliable, and says that "the RFP was written from the beginning to exclude the most consistent and reliable voting system. They have not thought through that they may be excluding things that may be better. The Federal Election Commission has not given complete standards to the state. So what if we buy these machines and they're no good? Then we have to buy them again and waste the taxpayers' money."

The Advocate article also features Yale computer science professor Michael Fischer. Here's an excerpt:


Yale computer science professor Michael Fischer remains concerned about the security of the machines Connecticut is about to buy. Fischer says that the public will likely be wowed by their external features, but won't get to see the inside--"where the reliability, security, and auditibility take place. They say security won't be a problem because the machines won't be connected to the internet. To a non-technological person that seems safe, but it doesn't solve all security problems."

Fischer says that electronic voting machines in other states have crashed in past elections. Then what? "The question to ask is: Where's my ballot? Where's my paper? Where's my primary record? What is needed is a record that the voter can verify and that can't reasonably be altered after the fact--and the only thing we have right now that meets this requirement is paper."

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