Lecture Questions Security of Electronic Voting

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Byline: Gala M. Pierce Daily Herald Staff Writer

With the presidential election on the horizon, Americans are wondering if their vote will count.

And Dan Wallach of Rice University in Houston has asked the question: How reliable and secure are electronic voting systems?

The computer science assistant professor presented research Wednesday at a Fermilab Colloquium lecture in Batavia that showed the vulnerabilities of electronic voting.

"Is it technically feasible for such a person or for a conspiracy of people to throw an election with these systems?" he asked a crowd of mostly employees of Fermilab. "Absolutely. Would there be any evidence? Not if they knew what they were doing."

About 29 percent of the United States will vote this November on direct recording electronic machines. These computerized systems offer several advantages, including a way to double-check for mistakes, big type for people with low-vision, and a headphone jack for people with no vision.

The problem?

"The electronic machines are not more fundamentally accurate in catching voter intent," Wallach said.

While companies claim increased security and reliability, independent parties aren't allowed to certify them and there's no way to double-check results if paper ballots are not printed. …