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Voting machine makers criticize review that noted security flaws

From the Associated Press

Representatives of three voting machine companies criticized a state study Monday that found that their machines could be breached by hackers, saying it had reached unrealistic conclusions.

Their testimony was countered by a UC Davis professor who helped lead the review and who said it revealed “very real” vulnerabilities.

“It may be that all of them can be protected against. It may be that some cannot,” said Matt Bishop, a computer science professor.

Bishop discussed the study during a hearing held by Secretary of State Debra Bowen as she weighed whether to prohibit use of any of the machines during the Feb. 5 presidential primary.

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State law requires her to make that decision by Friday.

The study, conducted by the university under a contract with Bowen’s office, examined machines sold by Diebold Election Systems, Hart InterCivic and Sequoia Voting Systems.

It concluded that they were difficult to use for voters with disabilities and that hackers could break into the systems and change vote results.

Machines made by a fourth company, Elections Systems & Software, were not included because the company was late in providing information that the secretary of state needed for the review, Bowen said.

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Sequoia, in a statement read by systems sales executive Steven Bennett, called the UC review “an unrealistic, worst-case-scenario evaluation.”

Diebold also complained that the study didn’t look at its most recently developed software, which was designed to deal with some “low-risk issues” that were identified in a 2006 UC Berkeley study.

But that equipment has yet to be certified for use in California.

Hart said it found “several inconsistencies, alternate conclusions and errors” included in the report.

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