The Colorado Secretary of State’s office is considering changes that would relax security around electronic voting machines, making the already-vulnerable equipment more susceptible to hacking, opponents of the equipment and the draft rules said today. “There’s nothing more important than election security,” said attorney Paul Hultin, who represented several voters in a 2006 lawsuit that sought to eliminate use of the machines in Colorado. “It’s a step back.”
Richard Coolidge, public information officer for Secretary of State Scott Gessler, said the aim is to provide more guidance and clarity to county clerks, thereby creating more uniformity in how rules are applied. “We’re trying to balance common sense, practical application with security on the other end,” Coolidge said. “We can do that without compromising any security.”
A public meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday to provide input on the proposed changes. Formal rulemaking has not yet started, but the meeting is a likely first step toward the rulemaking process, Coolidge said.
Among the changes being considered:
– Eliminate the requirement that video security surveillance of areas where election software is used be “continuous.” Video surveillance is required for 60 days prior and 30 days after an election.
– Eliminate requirement that a county clerk or election judge who suspects tampering report it to the Secretary of State. Instead, such investigations would be handled at the county level.
– Reduce the number of tamper-proof seals that must be placed on seams of cases that hold the equipment’s electronic components. Currently, at least one seal must be placed on each of the four sides of the machine. The proposal states that the case must have “a seal that ensures the integrity of the electronic components contained inside.” The seal could be placed on either the seams or “key entry points such as screw access points.” It does not require a specific number of seals.
Controversy over the machines — known as a direct recording electronic voting device, or DREs — erupted nationwide as the machines were put into use following the 2000 election.
Supporters say the machines eliminated problems caused by paper ballots, and that computerizing voting systems makes tallies more accurate. But critics argue the equipment is unreliable and susceptible to hacking.