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Official Calls for Greater E-Vote Security
Published on Wednesday, June 9, 2004 by Reuters
Official Calls for Greater E-Vote Security
by Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON - Electronic voting machines should print out ballots or include other security measures to ensure they work properly in the November presidential election, the top U.S. elections official said on Tuesday.

Elections Assistance Commission Chairman DeForest Soaries said local officials need to take extra steps to ensure that electronic votes do not fall victim to computer glitches or hacking attempts.

"The increased use of electronic voting devices has created security concerns that the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission must address," Soaries told a group of Maryland elections officials.

Elections are generally overseen by states and the federal commission does not have the power to overrule them. But Soaries' remarks could intensify the debate over touch-screen voting machines which will be used in the November elections.

Many election officials say the touch-screen systems are easy to use and more accurate than the antiquated punch-card systems used in the Florida recount battle in the 2000 presidential election. But critics, notably California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, have warned that the systems are vulnerable to malfunctions and hacking.

Soaries said printed ballots or things like voice recognition and cryptography could help minimize security concerns. Officials could also randomly test the machines on election day and the commission will help to determine which method works best, he said.

Voting-system vendors like Diebold Inc. should allow election officials to inspect the source code underlying their software and a government-run reference library of election software could help officials determine if it has been altered, he said.

The commission plans to investigate suspicious activity and document equipment malfunctions.

© Copyright 2004 Reuters Ltd


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