This past Tuesday, the NY State Board of Elections approved a plan for submission regarding NYS’s compliance with the “Help America Vote Act”. We are the last of all 50 states to come into compliance with this act.
ALBANY — New York state on Tuesday went ahead with plans that would make it compliant with the federal Help America Vote Act by the 2007 election.
Under HAVA, state officials are looking to replace all of New York’s about 20,000 lever-action voting machines with high-tech devices. But the state board has said it is not feasible to have new machinery in place everywhere until the 2007 elections.
States were required to replace all punch-card and lever machines by November’s election.
The lever machines we currently use will not be allowed for use in NYS after November 1, 2007.
Here is the current schedule. There is the possibility that this still could be delayed and pushed back to 2008.
• Develop test plans for new machines by Oct. 6.
• Complete a report on security of the machines by Nov. 20.
• Finish testing machines by Dec. 11.
• Certify or reject machines by Dec. 22.
• Finish handicapped-compliance regulations by Feb. 21.
• Train election inspectors on new machines by March 19.
• Print and deliver election materials by May 16.
• Test and accept or reject voting machines by July 6.
• Verify that security is working, Sept. 11, 2007.
Individual counties are responsible for determining which type of machine to use, and the federal government will cover the cost of the machines. The NYS Election Board has to test the available brands before the counties make their choice.
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law recently completed a study “of the three most commonly purchased electronic voting systems: electronic machines (“DREs”) with – and without – a voter verified paper trail, and precinct-counted optical scan systems (“PCOS”)”. The panel:
… government and private sector scientists, voting machine experts, and security professionals on the Task Force worked together for more than a year. The members of the non-partisan panel were drawn from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”), the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, leading research universities, and include many of the nation’s foremost security experts.
All of the most commonly purchased electronic voting systems have significant security and reliability vulnerabilities. All three systems are equally vulnerable to an attack involving the insertion of corrupt software or other software attack programs designed to take over a voting machine.
Automatic audits, done randomly and transparently, are necessary if paper records are to enhance security. The report called into question basic assumptions of many election officials by finding that the systems in 14 states using voter-verified paper records but doing so without requiring automatic audits are of “questionable security value.”
Wireless components on voting machines are particularly vulnerable to attack. The report finds that machines with wireless components could be attacked by “virtually any member of the public with some knowledge of software and a simple device with wireless capabilities, such as a PDA.”
(Currently, only New York and Minnesota ban wireless components on all machines.)
The vast majority of states have not implemented election procedures or countermeasures to detect a software attack even though the most troubling vulnerabilities of each system can be substantially remedied.
The BOE has the time and information available from many sources and other states’ experiences to make wise and knowledgeable decisions as to what voting machines the counties will have to choose from.
Let’s hope that they use this available knowledge in their final decisions.