San Francisco tech experts to study electronic
Photo courtesy Caltech/MIT
Voting Technology Project
By Emmett Berg, Bay City News Service
January 20, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The Department of Elections in
San Francisco is enlisting software and system security experts
in the community to tackle the question of ensuring the integrity
of electronic voting.
A task force announced recently is being created to review source
code -- the technical language that amounts to a recipe for a
computer program -- in its application to electronic voting machines.
Like other local governments across the nation, San Francisco
has paid private vendors to provide electronic voting machines.
Though the machines' computer interfaces have generally won acclaim
for voter ease-of use, problems have sprung up with reports of
machines not operating properly, or election results that may
have been tipped by faulty collection of actual voter preferences.
The manufacturers of voting machines have resisted the public
release of the source code underlying their technology, citing
security and proprietary information concerns.
The balance sought by the Department of Elections is between
transparency -- making sure a voting system is on the level and
operational -- and security from tampering.
The task force will also be asked to provide a security analysis
of San Francisco's voting system and report on its recommendations.
Besides private citizens with expertise, members of the panel
will include representatives from the Secretary of State's office
and Oakland-based Sequoia Voting Systems, which is under contract
to provide voting machines to San Francisco.
"One of San Francisco's goals is to have a review of its
existing voting system that will set the foundation for transparent
operation of all voting systems," according to a release
from John Arntz, director of the Department of Elections. "A
second goal for the review process to result in becoming the cornerstone
in the development of security standards applicable to all voting
No timetable or names of participants were indicated as of yet
for the task force.
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