"[C]oncerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes."
That's just one of the chilling revelations from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office's (GAO) 107-page report on the security of Election Voting Machines in America as just released moments ago. The report confirms many of the greatest concerns expressed by those who have called for Election Reform since the deeply flawed 2004 Presidential Election.
The report "analyzed over 80 recent and relevant reports related to the security and reliability of electronic voting systems." The results confirm a range of security vulnerabilities and violations in Electronic Voting Machines in recent elections and the accompanying systems used to administer elections in the United States of America. It goes on to say that the issues brought to the attention of the GAO by elected representatives, activists and other concerned citizens, "merit the focused attention of federal state and local authorities responsible for election administration."
The GAO report (download the complete report here [PDF]) was created in response to a request by several members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.
A joint bi-partisan press release touting the findings of the report has just been issued by three Republican and three Democratic Congressmen including Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) and Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Judiciary Committee Chair F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), and Science Committee Chair Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Ranking Member Bart Gordon (D-TN).
While The BRAD BLOG is still perusing the details of the extensive report, some of the key findings are listed right on the front page:
Examples of Voting System Problems and Vulnerabilities.
Speaking about the GAO report in the joint press release, one congressman described it as "a wake up call."
Republican Rep. Boehlert said, "I wholeheartedly endorse the GAO recommendations, which underscore the need for the Election Assistance Commission and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to continue their work to establish standards and testing procedures for voting equipment. This work must move ahead on an ambitious schedule."
Democratic Rep. Gordon added, "The foundation of democracy rests upon the accuracy, integrity and security of our voting system"
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, a tireless champion for election reform and leading force behind the landmark report "Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio 2004", has just blogged about the report.
He says the report "lends important credibility to the cause of election reform generally, and more specifically to requiring that every machine have a voter verified paper ballot that is used in election days audits and, if discrepancies are found in those audits, becomes the official record for the election."
"Despite the many official assurances that the problems of the past elections were isolated and few," Conyers writes, "the election system is indeed riddled with problems and flaws."
The "bottom line," says Conyers, is that until these matters are seriously addressed, and "significant security and controls" are put in place with our voting machines, "American citizens have no reason to have complete confidence in our democracy."
Conyers further enumerates a list of notable and troubling security shorcomings identified by the GAO:
2. It is easy to alter a file defining how a ballot appears, making it possible for someone to vote for one candidate and actually be recorded as voting for an entirely different candidate.
3. Falsifying election results without leaving any evidence of such an action by using altered memory cards.
4. Access to the voting network was easily compromised because not all digital recording electronic voting systems (DREs) had supervisory functions password-protected, so access to one machine provided access to the whole network.
5. Supervisory across to the voting network was also compromised by repeated use of the same user IDs combined with easily guessed passwords.
6. The locks protecting access to the system were easily picked and keys were simple to copy.
7. One DRE model was shown to have been networked in such a rudimentary fashion that a power failure on one machine would cause the entire network to fail.
8. GAO identified further problems with the security protocols and background screening practices for vendor personnel.
The complete joint bi-partisan press release, issued by six U.S. House of Representative members, follows...