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October 20, 2003

UCSC hosting a public forum on electronic voting on Sunday, October 26

By Tim Stephens

Are election districts throughout the country adopting unreliable electronic voting technology in a misguided effort to upgrade their voting systems? This question will be addressed by a panel of speakers at a Forum on Electronic Voting on Sunday, October 26, at UCSC.

The forum will take place from 12:30 to 5 p.m. in the Baskin Engineering Building, Room 152, on the UCSC campus. Arthur Keller, visiting associate professor of computer science at UCSC, will moderate the discussion. The event is free and open to the general public.

The presidential election of 2000 introduced the term "hanging chad" to the American vocabulary and highlighted the shortcomings of punch-card voting systems. In response, the U.S. Congress passed legislation aimed at replacing punch-card voting systems with more reliable technology.

One result has been the widespread adoption of touch-screen voting machines. But many computer scientists say these machines have serious problems with respect to security, reliability, and accountability.

The forum at UCSC will present several perspectives on the current controversy surrounding electronic voting systems. While many computer scientists argue that the results from such systems are unverifiable and vulnerable to tampering, some election officials seem unconcerned. Part of the appeal of electronic voting machines is that they can enable blind and disabled people to vote secretly. Tens of thousands of these voting machines are now being deployed across the United States and will be used to count about 40 percent of the votes in the 2004 presidential election.

Speakers at the forum will include:

David Dill, Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University
Warren Slocum, Chief Elections Officer, San Mateo County
Joe Simitian, California State Assemblymember, 21st District
Alan Dechert, Open Voting Consortium
League of Women Voters (tentative)

Several of the participants in the forum maintain web sites with information relating to the issues that will be discussed, including Dill (http://www.verifiedvoting.org), Slocum (http://www.warrenslocum.com), Dechert (http://home.earthlink.net/~adechert), and the League of Women Voters (http://www.lwv.org).

The forum is sponsored by the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, the UCSC chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the UCSC chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery.

For more information about the forum, e-mail Robert Kibrick. Information about the forum is also available on the web at http://www.soe.ucsc.edu/~ark/evoting.html.

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