Feeds

E-voting gets bitch-slapped in Calfornia

Strict measures

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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". ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.