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Q&A: E-voting security results 'awful,' says Ohio secretary of state

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Q&A: E-voting security results 'awful,' says Ohio secretary of state
Q&A: E-voting security results 'awful,' says Ohio secretary of state
How bad? 'I thought I was going to throw up,' Jennifer Brunner recalls

By Brad Friedman

October 8, 2008 (Computerworld) Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner will be under the national spotlight next month, overseeing what's expected to be the state's largest-ever turnout for a presidential election. It will also be her first as the state's chief election official.

The stakes will be just as high as they were for her Republican predecessor, J. Kenneth Blackwell, four years ago, when the narrowly decided state election was marred by charges of questionable results and complaints that some residents, largely in minority areas, were forced to wait hours to cast their votes.

This year, denizens of the Buckeye State who mistrust touch-screen systems will be allowed to vote on a paper ballot if they prefer. The directive to allow "paper or plastic" came in the wake of Brunner's landmark 2007 "Evaluation & Validation of Election-Related Equipment, Standards & Testing" analysis, otherwise known asEVEREST, in which "critical security failures" were found in every system tested by several teams of both corporate and academic computer scientists and security experts.

Ohio officials discovered in March that some voting systems manufactured byPremier Elections Solutions Inc., a subsidiary of Diebold Inc., dropped votes as they were being uploaded to a main server. Because the problem is in the tabulator system, it affects votes cast on both Diebold's direct recording electronic (DRE) systems, which are usually touch screen, and paper ballot optical-scan systems. The same central tabulators will be used in more than 30 states next month.


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