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Federal report says paperless electronic voting machines cannot be made secure

[JURIST] Software-dependent electronic voting machines, "are not viable for future voting systems" and "in practical terms cannot be made secure," according to a draft report [PDF text; press release] prepared by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) [official website] and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) [official website]. The NIST report instead strongly favored what they called software-independent systems. Those systems do not rely on software alone for vote-tallying and often have a paper back-up system. The most common version of this independent system is use of a paper ballot that is electronically scanned and tallied. Such a system permits an accurate audit.

Errors with these touch-screen-only systems are the basis for several lawsuits filed in Florida regarding vote-tallying irregularities [JURIST report] after the November elections. A coalition of advocacy groups filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on November 21 claiming that officials in Sarasota County failed to investigate or report various alleged malfunctions with the touch-screen voting machines and are calling for a re-vote in Florida's hotly-contested 13th Congressional District. This was only one of many instances of voting machine malfunction on election day [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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