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Voting chaos looms for American election

By Steve Connor in Seattle

16 February 2000: (The Independent)
The electronic voting system designed for the forthcoming American election is fundamentally flawed and could undermine the trustworthines of the entire US democratic process, a scientist has told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Paper ballots can be scrutinised to ensure they have not been misread or tampered with but electronic votes recorded only as computer code cannot be checked to see the true intention of the voter, said David Dill, professor of computer science at Stanford University in California.

One in four voters in the US presidential election in November will use touch-sensitive machines rather than putting a cross on a ballot paper.

"The system is in crisis. A quarter of the American public are voting on machines where there's very little protection of their votes. I don't think there's any reason to trust these machines," he said.

Such a system is even vulnerable to fraud byemployees of the machine's manufacturers, who could rewrite the software to rig an election he said.

"It is technically not difficult to do if you bribe a programmer at a major manufacturer. If you ask how likely it is that it could be done, the answer is 100 per cent. If you ask how likely it is to be done, I can't answer that," he added.

2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=491730

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