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CA Secretary of State completes voting system review

July 27, 2007

Hi Folks,

Today California's Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, released some of the reports completed in her "top-to-bottom review" of California's voting systems. The review is the most comprehensive, in-depth examination of voting systems ever undertaken in the U.S., and included investigations of voting systems' hardware, software, documentation and accessibility for three manufacturers, Diebold, Hart and Sequoia.

The Secretary of State will be holding a public hearing on Monday, July 30 at 10 a.m. at her office in Sacramento to hear reports from the lead researchers in the review and take public comment. So far, the documents that have been released include the "Red Team Overview", describing the kind of hacking attacks the investigation conducted to determine what vulnerabilities exist in California's voting systems, and reports on specific vendors. To access the review documents, go to According to the overview document, the researchers found vulnerabilities in all systems they examined.

Secretary of State Bowen also issued a news release about the reports, which is online at

The big question is whether California's Secretary of State will decertify voting systems based on the top-to-bottom review, or perhaps allow some of the systems in question to be used under certain conditions, such as tighter security procedures and/or more rigorous public auditing of election results. Under state law, the Secretary of State cannot decertify voting systems less than six months prior to an election. Since California's Presidential primary election was moved up to February 2008, next Friday, August 3 is the deadline by which Secretary Bowen must act.

Also being released soon is a report from the Post-Election Audit Standards Working Group, of which I was a member. The report provides options for improving public verification of software vote counts in California, which may factor in to the decisions made about whether to certify or decertify certain systems.

The vendors whose systems were studied in California provide equipment to states across the country, so California's top-to-bottom review will likely have an impact in other states that are relying on the same voting equipment.

-- Kim Alexander

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This page was first published on July 27, 2007 | Last updated on July 28, 2007
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