August 11, 2003

Voting machine review ordered

As already noted, we are in the midst of a *civil*
war, and this as yet *civil* war has several fronts,
including the battle to thwart the "recall" Terminator
attack on the duly elected Governor of California, the
heroic struggle against "re-districting" by Democrats
in the Texas state legislation, the fight to overturn
the Bush-infected FCC's pro-monopoly ruling on media
ownership and of course the life and death contest to
preserve the sanctity of the voting process
itself...Read this article from the Baltimore Sun, but
even more importantly go to www.blackboxvoting.com or
search here on the LNS database...Learn about who
actually controls Diebold...Remember, 2+2=4
"In the wake of a study revealing security flaws in the costly touch-screen voting machines Maryland has agreed to buy, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. ordered an outside review yesterday of the electronic system scheduled to be in place for next spring's presidential primary election. "



http://www.sunspot.net/news/local/bal-md.voting07aug07,0,1419965.story


Voting machine review ordered

Hopkins study of flaws in security prods action;
Purchase no longer 'a certainty'; California firm to analyze touch-screen system

By David Nitkin
Sun Staff

August 7, 2003

In the wake of a study revealing security flaws in the
costly touch-screen voting machines Maryland has
agreed to buy, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. ordered an
outside review yesterday of the electronic system
scheduled to be in place for next spring's
presidential primary election.

Science Application International Corp. of San Diego
will complete the evaluation in four weeks, delivering
findings that will determine whether Maryland moves
forward with the $55.6 million purchase of new
machines for 19 counties, asks for alterations to
improve accuracy or scuttles the plan altogether.

"The governor's first and foremost concern is public
confidence in the system," said Henry Fawell, an
Ehrlich spokesman. "If ensuring public confidence
means conducting an independent review, then he
believes that is the appropriate step to take."

With the analysis pending, the state's purchase of the
new machines "is not a certainty," Fawell said.

Ehrlich's order occurs less than two weeks after Johns
Hopkins University researchers concluded that the
AccuVote-TS machines built by Diebold Election Systems
of McKinney, Texas, were vulnerable to hackers,
multiple votes and vote-switching.

Maryland recently agreed to buy more than 11,000 of
the machines, placing the state on the leading edge of
a movement to upgrade voting technology after the
error-ridden 2000 presidential election in Florida.

The researchers based their results on a review of the
computer code that runs the system. Diebold has
countered that the study used an outdated version of
the code and did not account for real-world safeguards
that protect against abuse.

Diebold officials said yesterday that the company will
cooperate with the evaluation, which they said was the
first of its kind among the several states using the
touch-screen terminals and software.

In Maryland, four counties - Allegany, Dorchester,
Montgomery and Prince George's - used the machines for
last year's election, largely without incident.

"We are confident that no problems will arise from the
review," said Diebold spokesman Michael A. Jacobsen.
"Should the third-party review require action on our
part, we are going to work closely with the customer,
in this case Maryland, to make sure their needs are
met."

While praising the quality and reputation of the
California company that will perform the evaluation,
Aviel Rubin, technical director of Hopkins'
Information Security Institute, said he was troubled
that neither Diebold nor Maryland officials have
contacted him or his colleagues to talk about their
findings.

"I am really surprised that they are not having SAIC
talk to us. I'm very disappointed in that," Rubin
said. "No one from the state of Maryland has talked to
us."

Fawell said the California company would review the
Hopkins report, but said the researchers would not be
contacted directly to keep the evaluation as
independent as possible.

He also said that Diebold has agreed to allow SAIC to
review the proprietary code for the voting system, a
condition that Rubin called important to a thorough
analysis.

The Hopkins study has stoked an intense national
debate over whether electronic voting machines are
secure and accurate enough to justify expensive
federal and state efforts to replace older technology.


Some say Ehrlich should use the latest findings to
pull the plug on the state's impending investment.

"The state was a guinea pig in this whole process,"
said former Del. Cheryl C. Kagan, a Montgomery County
Democrat who has criticized the Glendening
administration's selection of Diebold to provide the
machines.

"The [19 counties] should keep what they've got,
rather than going headlong into a new process that has
yet to be successfully tested.

"Especially in bad fiscal times, $55 million in new
technology that might be flawed is irresponsible, if
not obscene," Kagan said.

In Baltimore County, where chief technology officer
Thomas G. Iler was part of a state panel that raised
questions about the new system, officials have asked
for the new system to be delayed. The state has denied
the request.

"The [governor's] decision underscores our stated
concerns about the newness of the technology, and the
caution that needs to be taken when applying a new
technology to a critical function of government," Iler
said yesterday.

"The governor is making a good step."

Administration and state elections board officials
have shown little willingness to delay buying the
machines, saying Maryland is required under state and
federal law to upgrade its voting technologies.

State board of elections administrator Linda Lamone
has said the Diebold machines performed well enough in
the four counties last year to justify their
widespread introduction.

"We at the state board have confidence in the Diebold
system," said board chairman Gilles Burger in a
statement yesterday.

"We hold the utmost value in voter integrity and
security and take credible claims of vulnerability
seriously."

Maryland has an existing two-year $2.6 million
contract with SAIC to analyze software the state is
buying and security associated with it.

The review ordered by Ehrlich will not cost the state
additional money, Fawell said.

Copyright 2003, The Baltimore Sun



Posted by richard at August 11, 2003 08:09 AM