A direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machine records votes by means of a ballot display provided with mechanical or electro-optical components that can be activated by the voter (typically buttons or a touchscreen); that processes data by means of a computer program; and that records voting data and ballot images in memory components. After the election it produces a tabulation of the voting data stored in a removable memory component and as printed copy. The system may also provide a means for transmitting individual ballots or vote totals to a central location for consolidating and reporting results from precincts at the central location.
In 2009, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany found that when using voting machines the “determination of the result must be able to be examined by the citizen reliably and without any specialist knowledge of the subject.” They further found the DRE-type voting machines used in parliamentary elections current German law permitted voting machines but was unconstitutional without further qualification. The decision does not ban electronic voting, but does implement a higher standard.
Demonstrated Laboratory Attacks
- Diebold Election Systems AccuVote-TS (Manipulation of the votes by the Princeton University.)
- Nedap ES3B (Manipulation of the votes by a citizen group)
- SDU voting computers (Violating the secrecy of the ballot using Van Eck phreaking, tested by the Dutch secret service AIVD)
Attacks have also been performed on both DRE machines and optical scan voting machines, which count paper ballots. (See California study, “Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuBasic Interpreter” ).
Whether it is a DRE or an optical scan machine, the opportunity for tampering applies to persons with inside access (including government workers) and to a lesser extent, outside hackers. Therefore framing election tampering issues as “hacking” may not be an accurate framework for public concerns. Within the context of protecting voting rights, it would not matter whether vote alteration was done by an outsider or an insider.