Dispatches > The Buzz

In Brief: Vote fraud 2.0

Some say electronic voting can prevent another hanging-chad catastrophe.

Issue: "Capitol stampede in Texas," Aug. 9, 2003

Some say electronic voting can prevent another hanging-chad catastrophe. But many techies are skeptical, however, saying this opens the door to a new type of vote fraud.

Some computer security experts reported "significant security flaws" in an electronic voting scheme adopted by several states. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute and Rice University analyzed programming code from Diebold Election Systems, which lets voters cast ballots on a 15-inch touchscreen. Their study said the scheme is vulnerable to cheaters-including "insiders such as poll workers, software developers, and even janitors"-who could stuff the ballot box.

Diebold stands by its ballots, claiming the researchers studied an outdated copy of its software and thus misunderstood how the system works. It also says the current version is proprietary and not available for the team's examination.

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Last year, about 33,000 of the Ohio-based company's voting stations were used in elections in Maryland, Georgia, California, Kansas, and other locations.

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