Diebold says e-voting hardware secure, critics off base

A Diebold Election Systems official is firing back at e-voting critic Avi Rubin, calling the Johns Hopkins professor and Maryland elections judge a "strong activist against e-voting" who is predisposed to find e-voting machines lack proper security.

Mark Radke, head of marketing for Diebold, made the comments in response to several points raised by Rubin in the wake of a problematic primary election last week in Maryland.

Radke defended the security of Diebold's AccuVote TS hardware, which was used last week in Baltimore County. For instance, he said that a tamper-resistant seal used to prevent tampering with the AccuVote's memory card is commonly used and effective -- despite concerns from Rubin that it could be easily removed and replaced. Rubin also felt Diebold didn't provide adequate support during the Maryland election and said Diebold electronic polling book devices used to check in voters suffered from poor performance.

Radke said the current version of the AccuVote software supports dynamic passwords, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption and two-way authentication to transmit election results and relies on a memory card that is digitally signed. He also argued that the e-poll books have been used successfully in other states, such as Georgia, and said they provide a streamlined way to check voters in.

Acknowledging performance issues with the e-poll books, Radke said they were caused by a technical glitch that made the books reboot themselves frequently -- an issue has been addressed in the last week. "It was a minor issue and the cause of the inconvenience has been rectified," said Radke.

He also said Diebold provided the required levels of hardware support, he said. "Our Maryland state contract calls for one technical person for every 15 precincts. In addition to these technical people, we actually had other representatives that were in the field at a combined ratio of one for every two precincts in the morning to observe the poll opening process, and report any issues that occurred. The technical people were in place for the duration of the election," he said.