Florida voting machines show problems

Posted by Mark Raby

Tallahassee (FL) - Following an alarming report about the security of California's electronic voting machines, a new study shows Florida's systems still need some work too.

Yesterday, reports shined light on California's voting machines and a bevy of mechanical and electronic design flaws that could compromise election results.

The Florida study, performed by Florida State University's information technology lab, showed that there was potential for memory card fraud.  An external memory card, which is the only method of keeping track of the votes, is easily accessible and could be swapped out with one that gives an artificial vote count boost to a losing candidate.

Though the report about Florida's voting machines don't show as many potential areas for tampering as California's report does, it's still a concern for the Secretary of State Kurt Browning.  The Associated Press reports Browning has asked the manufacturer of the machines, Diebold, to fix these problems before next year's presidential primary election.

Last year was the first year for much of the country to implement touch screen voting systems.  While electronic fraud was not brought into any serious allegations, technical malfunctions caused several polling places to literally shut down and keep voters waiting in lines for hours, and in some cases required them to stay open past midnight.

While it would be nearly impossible for an ordinary voter to bypass some of the vulnerabilities raised for California and Florida without being noticed, it makes it easier for someone on the inside to tamper with the results.

Poll workers have intimate access with the machines and without more safeguards, could easily manipulate the vote tally.  The Florida report said an attack on the machines "can be carried out with a reasonably low probability of detection assuming that audits with paper ballots are infrequent."