The Pentagon has retreated. Not from some foreign enemy, but from a domestic enemy: Electronic voting machines.In the latest blow to corporate purveyors of these dangerously flawed cyberspace voting gizmos, the Pentagon has announced that it will abandon its plan to use an Internet system for voting by our troops and other Americans abroad in this year's elections. Pentagon officials had cut a $22 million deal with Accenture to develop this virtual-voting system.
Actually, this contract did pit American voters against a foreign force, since Accenture, which was spun off from the corrupt Arthur Andersen accounting firm, makes a big point of its being a Bermuda corporation, rather than a U.S. firm. Accenture's problem, however, was not its home base, but its technology, which it calls SERVE -- Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment.
An independent panel of scientists studied Accenture's system and found it so un-secure that it called for the immediate cancellation of its use, saying that SERVE had "fundamental security problems that leave it vulnerable to a variety of well-known cyber attacks. The best course to take," they concluded, "is not to field the SERVE system at all."
At first, Pentagon officials defended Accenture and assailed the scientists, but then reality set in, and the agency announced that it was withdrawing due to "the inability to ensure the legitimacy of votes, thereby bringing into doubt the integrity of the election results."
So what about us here at home, most of whom are still faced with voting on electronic machines? While the virtual voting technology we'll use is different from Accenture's, it also has been shown by computer scientists to be wide open to hackers and malfunctions, compromising the integrity of our votes.
To fight this electronic sabotage of our elections, call the committee on house administration (202-225-8281) and tell them to support HR 2239.
Publication date: 02/19/04