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Flawed E-Voting Standard Sent Back to Drawing Board

September 26, 2003
Electronic Frontier Foundation: Victory for Fair Elections

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
today applauded a technical working group for heeding
critics who called for rejection of a flawed electronic
voting standard proposal that failed to require adequate
security measures.

The working group of the Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) drafted the electronic
voting standard in an environment plagued by a lack of
consensus, procedural misconduct, and serious security

EFF last week called on IEEE members and other citizens to
voice their concerns about the standard. Nearly five hundred
people wrote to IEEE leadership pointing out flaws in the
draft standard. On September 22, the first working group
ballot on the draft failed overwhelmingly, causing the
simultaneous ballot at the sponsor level to fail as well.

"Defeat of the initial flawed IEEE electronic voting
standard is a victory for IEEE's democratic process," said
EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "We are glad that the
majority of the IEEE working group recognizes the serious
problems with this current electronic voting standard
proposal and hope that the working group will now fix the
standard to reflect current security norms."

Critics pointed out that one of the most glaring problems
with the draft was its failure to require, or even
recommend a mechanism to allow a true manual recount or
auditing of votes. Some voting machine companies already
offer one such mechanism, known as a voter-verifiable paper
audit trail. These machines produce a paper ballot for each
voter and allow voters to see a summary of their votes to
confirm that election officials are recording their votes

Florida's Broward County - one site of the infamous hanging,
dimpled, and pregnant chads - announced on September 24,
2003, that it will consider adding the audit capability to
its new $17 million dollar voting system due to concerns
about potentially undetectable election fraud.

"The American public deserves voting technology that we can
trust," said EFF Activist Ren Bucholz. "Today, that means
requiring a voter-verifiable paper audit trail, or its
equivalent, in all electronic voting systems."

This week, the Science Application International Corporation
(SAIC) released a report that confirmed earlier concerns
about Maryland's Diebold voting system. Maryland officials
hired the private security firm in response to a July 2003
report critical of the Diebold system by researchers at
Johns Hopkins University and Rice University. The SAIC
report generally reinforced and expanded upon the security
flaws discovered by the university researchers, concluding
that the Diebold voting system was "at a high risk of

The IEEE standard will now go back to its drafting
committee, Project 1583, which holds its next meeting in
Austin, Texas, in October. Once finalized, the U.S. and
other governments worldwide will likely adopt the IEEE
electronic voting standard, since IEEE sits on a technical
advisory board established by the federal Help America Vote
Act (HAVA).

EFF has renewed its call for interested scientists to
participate in the IEEE processes.



Cindy Cohn
  Legal Director
  Electronic Frontier Foundation

Ren Bucholz
  Electronic Frontier Foundation

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