Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine

Privacy and Security

Article Snapshot


Ariel J. Feldman, Edward Felten and J. Alex Halderman


Proc. 2007 USENIX/ACCURATE Electronic Voting Technology Workshop (EVT’07)


This paper reveals security problems with a commonly used voting machine.

Policy Relevance

The security problems with this voting machine should be addressed immediately to prevent election fraud.

Main Points

  • This voting machine was used in 2002 and was to be widely used in 2006 in federal elections. About 33,000 machines are used nationwide.

  • Malicious software can be designed to run on one voting machine can modify voting and other records with little risk of detection.  It could take votes from one candidate or party and give them to another, or make a machine useless on election day.

  • Anyone with physical access to a voting machine or a voting machine memory card can easily install malicious software in about a minute. In practice, security seals are often broken, and poll workers can have unsupervised access to machines.

  • Computer viruses can be used to spread malicious software from one voting machine to another during normal activity before and after elections.

  • Changes to software, hardware, and election procedures are needed to fix these security problems.  The system resists small-scale fraud reasonably well, but not large-scale fraud.

  • It is possible to design a secure voting machine.

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