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US: Mailed Diebold Disks Raise Voting Machine Fears

Associated Press
October 20th, 2006

Disks containing what appears to be software code used in Maryland's touchscreen voting machines in 2004 were delivered anonymously to a former state legislator, raising fresh concerns about the reliability of the voting system.

Former Democratic Delegate Cheryl Kagan, a critic of the paperless electronic machines, said she spoke Thursday with the FBI after the disks were delivered to her office.

An anonymous note said the disks had been "accidentally picked up" in the state election board offices.

Ross Goldstein, deputy elections administrator, said the disks did not belong to the state board, but he said that the software was used in the 2004 election.

Mark Radke, a spokesman for Diebold Inc., which makes the voting machines, said the labels on the disks referred to versions of the software that are no longer used in Maryland.

The disks contained software for both the touchscreen machines and the state board's computer election management system, which tabulates votes. Radke said the software now used for the machines has many new security features not included in the earlier computer code.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich has questioned the reliability of the machines and suggested that voters use absentee ballots if they have any doubts that their votes will be counted accurately.

A statement issued by Diebold said it would "take years for a knowledgeable scientist" to break the encryption used on the software disks delivered to Kagan.

But Ari Rubin, a computer scientist at Johns Hopkins University who reviewed the disks for The Washington Post, said the data files were not encrypted on the disk containing the software that runs the machines.

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