Rice University expert available to discuss implications of fire that destroyed Harris

first_imgAddThis ShareCONTACT: Jade BoydPHONE: 713-348-6778E-MAIL: [email protected] University expert available to discuss implications of fire that destroyed Harris County’s electronic voting equipmentComputer scientist says county may have to resort to paper ballots on Nov. 2Rice University computer scientist and electronic voting expert Dan Wallach is available to comment on the implications for the Nov. 2 election of an early morning warehouse fire that reportedly destroyed all of the electronic voting machines in Harris County, Texas, the nation’s third-most populous county. A three-alarm fire began about 4:15 a.m. at the Harris County Voting Machine Warehouse in the 600 block of Canino Road. Firefighters got the blaze under control within two hours, but news reports indicate that the contents of the warehouse, including some 10,000 eSlate voting machines, were destroyed. County officials have reportedly announced plans to borrow equipment from surrounding counties to support early voting, which begins in mid-October.Produced by Austin-based Hart InterCivic, the eSlate machines are the mainstay of the county’s voting system. With an estimated population of more than 4 million, Harris County is the most populous county in Texas and the third-most populous county in the United States.“The county doesn’t yet have a solution for Election Day,” Wallach said. “One possible solution might be to print paper ballots, where voters will fill in bubbles with a pen. This may require makeshift ballot boxes and voting booths, but the county’s existing election management software can support high-speed industrial paper scanners, which should be feasible to acquire before Nov. 2.”Wallach is an associate professor of computer science and of electrical and computer engineering at Rice. His research involves computer security and the issues of building secure and robust software systems for the Internet. He is the director of ACCURATE (A Center for Correct, Usable, Reliable, Auditable and Transparent Elections), a five-year research effort sponsored by the National Science Foundation with the aim of developing more robust and secure electronic voting technology. Wallach also has worked on a number of high-profile voting security projects, including a 2003 study, with Johns Hopkins University, that found flaws in Diebold’s e-voting systems, and in the state of California’s 2007 “Top-to-Bottom Review” of electronic voting systems. This study, which included a review of the Hart InterCivic technology used in Harris County, left no further doubt of the insecurities of the nation’s existing e-voting systems. Wallach has testified about voting security issues before a variety of government bodies and has had research support from the Texas Advanced Technology Program, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Schlumberger. To schedule an interview with Wallach, contact Jade Boyd, associate director of news and media relations, at 713-348-6778 or [email protected]last_img