New York Times
- National Report
Computer Voting is Open to Easy Fraud, Experts Say
By John Schwartz
New York Times
The software that runs many high-tech voting machines contains serious flaws that would allow one person to cast multiple votes and permit poll workers to alter ballots without being detected, computer security researchers said Wednesday.
"We found some stunning, stunning flaws," said Aviel D. Rubin, technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University, who led a team that examined the software from Diebold Election Systems, which has about 33,000 voting machines operating in the United States.
The software was initially obtained by critics of electronic voting, who discovered it on a Diebold Internet site in January. This is the first review of the software by recognized computer security experts.
A spokesman for Diebold, Joe Richardson, said the company could not comment in detail until it had seen the full report. He said that the software on the site was "about a year old" and that "if there were problems with it, the code could have been rectified or changed" since then. The company, he said, puts its software through rigorous testing.
Still, things that seem troubling in coding may not be as big a problem in the real world, Richardson said. For example, counties restrict access to the voting machines before and after elections, he said. While the researchers "are all experts at writing code, they may not have a full understanding of how elections are run," he said.
But Douglas W. Jones, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, said he was shocked to discover flaws cited in Rubin's paper that he had mentioned to the system's developers about five years ago as a state elections official.
"To find that such flaws have not been corrected in half a decade is awful," he said. Software designed by other voting machine companies might be flawed as well, he said.
Also carried by The Atlanta Journal Constitution on 7/24/2003, headlined Researchers report flaws in voting machine software.