Federal report says paperless electronic voting machines cannot be made secure

[JURIST] Software-dependent electronic voting machines, "are not viable for future voting systems" and "in practical terms cannot be made secure," according to a draft report [PDF text; press release] prepared by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) [official website] and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) [official website]. The NIST report instead strongly favored what they called software-independent systems. Those systems do not rely on software alone for vote-tallying and often have a paper back-up system. The most common version of this independent system is use of a paper ballot that is electronically scanned and tallied. Such a system permits an accurate audit.

Errors with these touch-screen-only systems are the basis for several lawsuits filed in Florida regarding vote-tallying irregularities [JURIST report] after the November elections. A coalition of advocacy groups filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on November 21 claiming that officials in Sarasota County failed to investigate or report various alleged malfunctions with the touch-screen voting machines and are calling for a re-vote in Florida's hotly-contested 13th Congressional District. This was only one of many instances of voting machine malfunction on election day [JURIST report]. AP has more.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.