Congressional Hearing Reveals That Electronic Voting Machines in Use Nationwide Should Be Retested For Accuracy, Security

May 7, 2007
Press Release
New York, NY - Today, Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives, and Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) held a field hearing in New York City on the certification and testing of electronic voting systems.

Maloney said, “This hearing made clear that voting machines nationwide may not be as safe and secure as they should be. Election officials across the country used taxpayer money to buy voting machines, believing that the equipment they bought complied with federal standards.  As we heard today, however, we have no way of knowing whether most of the voting system software in use across the country is in conformance with federal standards.  Most of the witnesses agreed that as a result, current voting system certification is 'meaningless'.”

In 2006, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) found major deficiencies in the testing programs of CIBER Inc., which had tested and certified about 70% of the voting equipment currently in use around the country, and had been hired to certify machines for use in New York State.  As a result, the EAC subsequently denied CIBER accreditation for their interim certification program. However, as yet the EAC has made no effort to inform state election administrators of their findings.

“At present, not a single e-voting machine in the whole country meets the most recent federal standards for accuracy and security,” Maloney added.  “Jurisdictions that rushed to purchase electronic voting systems are finding that their machines are insecure and unreliable, even though the machines were certified by the National Association of State Election Directors after testing by accredited testing laboratories.  New York State is the only state that has yet to purchase voting machines pursuant to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), and it looks like New York's delay in purchasing machines may wind up saving taxpayers millions of dollars.”

Under the current system, independent testing laboratories like CIBER are hired by voting machine manufacturers to test their products.  The vendor owns the results of the testing and is not obliged to release it to the public.  However, witnesses at today's hearing were unanimous in expressing concerns about the secrecy of testing results.  They agreed that a system in which vendors pay the EAC to hire testing services would allow for greater transparency and public oversight.   HR 811, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007, proposed by Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ), calls for the implementation of such a system.

The EAC adopted new, more stringent federal standards for voting machine testing in 2005, which are set to go into effect in later this year.  The witnesses agreed that voting machines have yet to be certified to comply with the 2005 standards.  Doug Kellner, Co-Chair of the New York State Board of Elections, testified that there is currently no voting machine equipment that meets New York State's standards. 

The witnesses were unanimous in agreeing that part of the problem has been the EAC has been underfunded.  Accordingly, EAC has lacked the personnel and the resources to ensure that the certification process moves smoothly.

Witnesses included Donetta L. Davidson, Chairman of U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), Mark W. Skall, Chief, Software Diagnostics and Conformance Testing Division, National Institute on Standards and Technology, Douglas A. Kellner, Co-Chair of the New York State Board of Elections,  Dr. David Wagner, Associate Professor, Computer Science Division, University of California, Berkeley,  Lawrence Norden, Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of  Law, John Washburn, VoteTrustUSA Voting Technology Task Force and CIBER President & CEO Mac J. Slingerland.