USACM Concerns in Evoting Press ReleaseDownload PDF
Association for Computing Machinery
Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession
Contact: Cameron Wilson
(202) 659-9711 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (202) 659-9711 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
SECURITY EXPERTS SEE GAPS IN TESTING, CERTIFYING OF E-VOTING
Wagner And USACM Propose Recommendations to Assure Reliable Elections
Washington, DC, July 19, 2006 – David Wagner, a well-known researcher in information
security and electronic voting, testified today that the federal qualification process for voting
machines is not working. At a Congressional hearing reviewing new federal voluntary standards
for voting equipment, Wagner, an associate professor of Computer Science at the University of
California, Berkeley, said that paperless voting machines are the systems most vulnerable to
security problems. The joint hearing was held by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee
on House Administration and the Committee on Science.
“We’ve seen security defects that allow a single person with insider access and some technical
knowledge could switch votes, perhaps undetected, and potentially swing an election,” he said.
“These problems should be weeded out by the independent testing process, but it is clear that this
system isn’t working.” He proposed several recommendations to make existing voting systems
as secure and reliable as possible for the upcoming election cycle.
The hearing examined whether the voluntary federal standards for voting equipment, issued in
2005, are likely to improve the accuracy and security of voting, and to see if states are likely to
adopt the standards. The hearing followed a recent report from the Government Accountability
Office that found widespread inconsistency in the use of federal technology standards.
“We have grave reservations about the safeguards in place with many of the computerized voting
technologies being used,” said Eugene Spafford, Chair of ACM’s Committee on Public Policy
(USACM). “New federal standards and a certification process hold promise for addressing some
of these problems, but more must be done to ensure the integrity of our elections in the face of
software and hardware errors as well as the possibility of undetectable tampering,” he said.
Spafford, who directs the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and
Security (CERIAS) at Purdue University, released a letter to Congress urging further actions to
ensure that voting is accurate, secure and error-free. They include:
A formal feedback process for translating lessons learned into best practices
A more transparent testing process with results available to the public
Clear usability and security standards to minimize variances in designs
A mechanism for interim updates to reflect emerging threats
Voter verified paper trails to mitigate risks from software and hardware flaws
The full text of the letter is at
Wagner is a member of the California Secretary of State’s Voting Systems Technology
Assessment Advisory Board. He was also a member of the ACM Committee on Guidelines for
Implementation of Voter Registration Databases. The committee issued recommendations in
February 2006 to ensure that electronic records of information submitted by citizens registering
to vote are accurate, private, and secure. http://www.acm.org/usacm/VRD/
ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery http://www.acm.org, is an educational and scientific society
uniting the world’s computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and
address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the profession’s collective voice through strong leadership,
promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth
of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.
# # #