The Machinery of Democracy: Protecting Elections in an Electronic World

June 27, 2006

On June 28, 2006, the Brennan Center released a report by its Voting System Security Task Force on the security of electronic voting systems. The Task Force was composed of internationally renowned government, academic, and private-sector scientists, voting machine experts and security professionals; together, they conducted the nation's first systematic analysis of security vulnerabilities in the three most commonly purchased electronic voting systems. The Task Force spent more than a year conducting its analysis and drafting its report, The Machinery of Democracy: Protecting Elections in an Electronic World.

In advance of its release, the report and its methodology were endorsed by many of the nation's leading security experts, computer scientists and election officials. Some of those endorsements can be found here.

Most broadly, the report found:

  • All three voting systems have significant security and reliability vulnerabilities, which pose a real danger to the integrity of national, state, and local elections.
  • The most troubling vulnerabilities of each system can be substantially remedied if proper countermeasures are implemented at the state and local level.
  • Few jurisdictions have implemented any of the key countermeasures that could make the least difficult attacks against voting systems much more difficult to execute successfully.

Fortunately, the steps necessary to make electronic voting systems substantially more secure are not particularly complicated or cumbersome. For the most part, they do not involve significant changes in system architecture.

The Brennan Center has also assembled many of the nation's leading experts to produce comprehensive reviews of the accessibility, cost and usability of electronic voting systems. These reports will be publicly released in the next few weeks.

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