MAY 12, 2006
The high-tech voting machines that many states bought for millions of dollars after the 2000 presidential election still have major security problems that leave them vulnerable to tampering during elections.
In fact, officials in a few states with upcoming primary elections issued urgent directives this week regarding potential security risks in their Diebold Election Systems machines. Basically, the touch screen systems allow any person with access to a voting terminal the ability to completely change the system code or ballot file without leaving evidence of the change.
Referred to as the worst ever security hole in a voting system, the serious flaw is detailed in a 12-page report published this week by the nonprofit election watchdog Black Box Voting. Experts who tested the system easily proved that there are several back doors which are unacceptable from a security point. The back doors allow the system to be modified in extremely flexible ways without even basic levels of security involved.
Problems with Diebold voting machines have been well documented through the years, but this serious security hole is truly shocking, especially with big elections coming up. In 2004, Diebold Election Systems paid the state of California $2.6 million to settle a civil suit over glitches and the following year the company’s CEO quit abruptly over the fiasco.
Why then do so many states – Florida, Iowa and Pennsylvania among them – use the flawed machines? Apparently, it is far too costly to replace them before the upcoming election and the glitches supposedly were not discovered until recently. In other words, it’s too late and taxpayers are stuck with them. Gina Cobb gives us the bottom line; democracy is at stake.
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