Thursday, January 04, 2007

More E-Voting Concerns

We've often pointed to concerns raised about other about e-voting systems. Generally, the amount to someone showing that a machine could be hacked and that there would be no way to know. Then the makers/administrators says "it's not a problem" or "trust us", and as economists we know what to make of that. But today the NY Times is reporting that "trust us" means even less than we thought:

A laboratory that has tested most of the nation’s electronic voting systems has been temporarily barred from approving new machines after federal officials found that it was not following its quality-control procedures and could not document that it was conducting all the required tests.

....

Experts say the deficiencies of the laboratory suggest that crucial features like the vote-counting software and security against hacking may not have been thoroughly tested on many machines now in use.

“What’s scary is that we’ve been using systems in elections that Ciber had certified, and this calls into question those systems that they tested,” said Aviel D. Rubin, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins.


Really, e-voting seems nice, but let's defer to Plato on this one: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Fortunately, as noted last month, all the increased attention to this has people expecting wholesale changes in the e-voting movement. Is it really that wrong to want a paper receipt that we can check and dump into a back-up ballot box, in case something goes wrong with the e-machines?

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