On the Release of the Brennan Center & LCCR Report on DRE Voting Systems

Download the Letter – (PDF)

Speech by Deborah Goldberg

of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law before the members of the press

On the Release of the Brennan Center & LCCR Report on DRE Voting Systems June 29, 2004

Thank you, Wade, for the introduction and for urging the Brennan Center to embark on this important project. So much of our work depends for its success on collaboration with civil rights organizations, including the Leadership Conference, but it has been especially gratifying to have had the opportunity to reach out to, and to build a new partnership with, the computer science and voting technology community.

I know that all of us here today, and those who have endorsed the recommendations that I will discuss in a moment, share a deep commitment to elections that build public confidence in our democracy. That confidence can be earned only if voting systems:

offer accessibility to voters with disabilities or limited English language proficiency,

provide as much security as possible from malicious attacks or fraud, and

count every vote accurately and transparently.

We are confident that expeditious implementation of these recommendations will meaningfully move us toward these goals in the 2004 elections.

This report makes eight recommendations for improving the reliability and security of Direct Recording Electronic (“DRE”) voting systems in jurisdictions planning to them in the fall 2004 elections. Most importantly, officials in charge of the elections should:

hire a well-qualified, independent security team to examine, at least: hardware design, hardware and firmware configuration, software design and configuration, election procedures, and physical security of the machines;

provide a thorough training program on security procedures for all elections officials and workers;

develop procedures for random parallel testing of the voting systems in use to detect malicious code or bugs in the software;

appoint a permanent independent panel of experts and members of the diverse constituencies engaged in election oversight to monitor the process outlined above and to perform a post-election security and performance assessment; and

establish standard procedures for regular reviews of audit facilities and operating logs for voting terminals and canvassing systems to verify correct operation and to uncover evidence of potential security breaches.

We recognize that the election is fast approaching. But we have specifically designed these recommendations to be limited in scope so that they can be implemented over a short period of a few months. We therefore urge jurisdictions that will use such systems this year to conduct a swift review of these recommendations and to implement them as fully as possible as soon as possible.

We recognize the demand this will place on election officials. But those who share our concern for the integrity and accuracy of our elections can be confident that the security and reliability of their DRE systems will improve measurably if the recommendations are effectuated immediately. To assist the election officials with this task, our experts have developed a model Request for Proposals that localities seeking to retain independent security teams can adapt to their needs. The model RFP is available on the Brennan Center’s website.

Finally, we should remember that providing voting security is a continuing process that will demand the ongoing involvement of the civil rights community, the technology community, and dedicated election officials throughout this country who want to make the American ideal of democracy a reality. The Brennan Center is honored to have collaborated with Wade Henderson and the Leadership Conference on this report, and we are profoundly grateful to the team of experts who devoted countless hours helping us to develop our recommendations. I know that they share the Brennan Center’s eagerness to facilitate implementation of the recommendations in the states that plan to use DRE voting systems this year, and we look forward to working with them and election officials in the coming months.

Download the Letter – (PDF)