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