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EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 29 - Students Fight E-Voting Firm with Electronic Civil Disobedience


EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 29 - Students Fight E-Voting Firm with Electronic Civil Disobedience

EFFector       Vol. 16, No. 29       October 25, 2003

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 268th Issue of EFFector:

Students Fight E-Voting Firm with Electronic Civil Disobedience

Students at Swarthmore College this week initiated an electronic civil disobedience action to keep providing the public with access to internal memos written by Diebold Elections Systems, Inc. about the security failings in the company's electronic voting system.

Under siege by critics, Diebold is invoking the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to force website operators and ISPs to remove the leaked memos - which explain how anyone with access to the machines could add or delete votes without detection - from the Internet. After receiving a cease-and-desist notice from Diebold demanding that the documents be taken down, the students sent out a press release announcing that they would not comply.

"The process of creating and maintaining electronic voting machines should be a public process," said student Ivan Boothe in a press statement. "The counting of votes should not be controlled in the back rooms of a for-profit company; it should be a fully transparent process that is able to be checked by citizens at every step of the way."

Diebold also sent a letter to the Online Policy Group (OPG) with similar demands. EFF, which is representing OPG, sent Diebold a reply indicating that OPG would not cooperate.

"What topic could be more important to our democracy than discussions about the mechanics and legitimacy of electronic voting systems now being introduced nationwide?" said EFF Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer. "EFF won't stand by as corporations like Diebold chill important online debate by churning out legal notices to ISPs that usually just take down legitimate content rather than face the legal risk."


IEEE E-Voting Update: Progress at Austin Meeting

Every few months, about 20 people gather to decide what tomorrow's elections may look like. This working group of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), called P1583, is currently in the process of writing a standard for electronic voting machines. However, there have been serious questions about whether P1583's procedures and work genuinely reflect what is best for democracy. In particular, members of the group who support voter-verified paper ballots have systematically been denied full participation.

Last month, over 500 EFF supporters asked IEEE to put the working group back on track. EFF Activist Ren Bucholz attended the most recent meeting in Austin, Texas, and is pleased to report that the situation appears to be improving. The meeting began with the group's leadership providing an itemized set of "clarifications" to address the procedural issues raised by EFF and supporters. For instance, leadership expressed its commitment to following IEEE rules, rather than enacting new rules on the fly that would keep particular members of the committee from voting.

While it is a long way from good procedures to a good standard, this is an important first step toward ensuring the integrity of electronic voting technology and our democratic process. EFF would like to thank the hundreds of people who wrote to IEEE. In clearing the way for participation by all members of the working group, we are that much closer to a workable standard.

We'll continue to monitor the process, and will keep you posted as it develops. When it has concluded, the IEEE standard will likely be adopted by the Elections Administration Commission (EAC) and gain the force of law.

EFF Seeks Media Interns, Spanish Translator

EFF seeks Media Interns to help us with media interview assignments, media releases, media professional relationships, and mediabase and media coverage archival. Interns must be located in the San Francisco Bay Area, and they must be able to come into the EFF office in San Francisco at least two days per week.

We also seek a volunteer to translate into Spanish the EFF report, "Unintended Consequences: Five Years Under the DMCA." Ideally, the volunteer will be familiar with both legal and technical terminology.


Deep Links

Deep Links features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

Staff Calendar

For a complete listing of EFF speaking engagements (with locations and times), please visit our calendar.


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