How bad are the problems? Experts are calling them the most serious voting-machine flaws ever documented. Basically the trouble stems from the ease with which the machine’s software can be altered. It requires only a few minutes of pre-election access to a Diebold machine to open the machine and insert a PC card that, if it contained malicious code, could reprogram the machine to give control to the violator. The machine could go dead on Election Day or throw votes to the wrong candidate. Worse, it’s even possible for such ballot-tampering software to trick authorized technicians into thinking that everything is working fine, an illusion you couldn’t pull off with pre-electronic systems. “If Diebold had set out to build a system as insecure as they possibly could, this would be it,” says Avi Rubin, a Johns Hopkins University computer-science professor and elections-security expert.
… The Diebold security gap is only the most vivid example of the reality that no electronic voting system can be 100 percent safe or reliable. That’s the reason behind an initiative to augment these systems, adding a paper receipt that voters can check to make sure it conforms with their choices. The receipt is retained at the polling place so a physical count can be conducted. “When you’re using a paperless voting system, there is no security,” says David Dill, a Stanford professor who founded the election-reform organization Verified Voting.
… In other words, it’s unlikely that every voter using an electronic voting device in 2006 will know for sure that his or her vote will be reflected in the actual totals. Six years after the 2000 electoral debacle, how can this be? [emphasis added]
This is an issue everyone should be making noise about.