Md. Vote Machines Flawed, Consultant Says

Maryland's new electronic voting system has many potential security flaws that must be corrected but is nevertheless "worthy of voter trust," a technical consultant told legislators.

Michael Wertheimer, who worked on a report presented Thursday to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee (search), said a team that simulated an election as a test found several ways vote totals could be changed. He said touch-screen machines could be disabled simply by repeatedly jamming a voter card into a terminal or lifting it up and pulling out wires.

But Wertheimer, who works for RABA Technologies, added that "we feel the system will accurately render the election" in March.

He listed changes that should be made before the primary election and long-term recommendations to improve security of the machines manufactured by Diebold Election Systems Inc. of North Canton, Ohio.

Recommendations by the RABA team included protecting the machines with tamper tape and giving each machine a different security password.

The RABA report confirms "the accuracy and security of Maryland's voting procedures and our voting systems as they exist today," Bob Urosevich, president of Diebold Election Systems, said in a statement Thursday.

"With that said, in our continued spirit of innovation and industry leadership, there will always be room for improvement and refinement."

Maryland spent $55.6 million to buy Diebold machines for every jurisdiction except the city of Baltimore, which already had a touch-screen system.

Concerns arose last summer about whether touch-screen systems are vulnerable to fraud following the release of a report critical of the machines' security. The legislature hired RABA to study how vulnerable computer voting systems are to tampering and fraud.