Feeds

E-voting gets bitch-slapped in Calfornia

Strict measures

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

California's top election official has decertified electronic voting machines made by the industry's four biggest vendors, in response to a report that highlighted their potential for election tampering.

The move by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen effectively bars the machines of three of the manufacturers - Diebold Election Systems, Sequoia Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic - unless new measures are implemented to safeguard against abuse.

Bowen also decertified e-voting machines sold by Election Systems and Software, which didn't turn over source code and other materials in time to be tested in in a "top-to-bottom" review designed to assess the security of all ballot machines. ES&S machines could be certified for use in the future.

Last week, University of California researchers hired by Bowen concluded machines sold by all three vendors studied suffered from a series of security vulnerabilities including the ability to overwrite firmware, install malicious applications, forge voter cards and gain access to the inside of voting machines by unfastening screws that were supposed to be inaccessible.

Bowen announced her decision just minutes before midnight on Friday, the deadline to determine whether the machines were reliable enough to be used in February's presidential primary.

The decision is a victory for critics of e-voting, who have long warned that it is more susceptible to tampering. But the move is also a clear reminder that people need to be careful what they wish for. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, 39 counties are affected by the decision, which means the next seven months could be a frenzied time for administrators trying to come into compliance.

Critics, including county registrars and those in the e-voting industry, warned voters may get caught in the crossfire.

"Secretary Bowen’s top-to-bottom review was designed to ignore security procedures and protocols that are used during every election," according to a statement from Diebold. "Her team of hackers was given unfettered access to the equipment, the source code, and all other information on security features provided by DESI to the Secretary of State's office. We are disappointed that Secretary Bowen has taken action to severely limit the options available to local election officials and voters in California."

Bowen's decision doesn't completely remove e-voting machines from state polling places. Counties will be allowed to keep one in each precinct to satisfy a requirement that makes it easier disabled users to cast ballots. Still, county administrators will be required to implement a stringent series of measures, including the requirement, according to the San Jose Mercury News, that the machines "be 100 per cent manually recounted for accuracy". ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.