Jolted Over Electronic Voting
Report's Security Warning Shakes Some States' Trust
By Brigid Schulte
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 11, 2003
The Virginia State Board of Elections had a seemingly simple task before it: Certify an upgrade to the state's electronic voting machines. But with a recent report by Johns Hopkins University computer scientists warning that the system's software could easily be hacked into and election results tampered with, the once perfunctory vote now seemed to carry the weight of democracy and the people's trust along with it.
Since being released two weeks ago, the Hopkins report has sent shock waves across the country. Some states have backed away from purchasing any kind of electronic voting machine, despite a new federal law that has created a gold rush by allocating billions to buy the machines and requiring all states, as well as the District of Columbia, to replace antiquated voting equipment by 2006.
Editor's Note: This story on the front page of the Washington Post truly is an encouraging sign ... at least for me. So far North Dakota, Michigan, Maryland, and now Virginia, have all, thankfully, taken this issue seriously enough to refuse to accept these machines before they get more information and assurances that they are secure. There may be other states that I have not read about yet. We can only hope that this urgent message will cause enough alarm for all 50 states to follow their lead and use every precaution to insure that the election in 2004 will not be corrupted, even if it means a temporary return to voting with plain old pencil and paper in order to produce a verifiable record.