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Release: April 16, 2002

UI professor to testify before Federal Election Commission April 17

Douglas W. Jones, associate professor of computer science in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will testify at a public hearing before the Federal Election Commission in Washington D.C. on Wednesday April 17.

The subject of the hearing is the Commission's proposed Voting System Standards (VSS), which were released for public comment on Dec. 13 and, if adopted, would replace the standards adopted in 1990.

Jones, who chairs the Iowa Board of Examiners for Voting Machines and Electronic Voting Systems, testified in January 2001 at the U.S. Civil Rights Commission hearings in Tallahassee, Fla. on voting machine technology and whether the rights of voters were violated during the 2000 election. Jones, who also gave a May 2001 presentation before the U.S. House of Representatives Science Committee, is a strong proponent of revisions to the 1990 standard.

However, he cautions that the unquestioned use of technology in voting systems has the potential to create more problems than it would solve. "Internet-based and touch-screen voting systems may sound very appealing, but while they solve one set of problems, they create new problems that we must anticipate," he says. "If we insist on strict auditability of all voting technology, we cannot allow unaudited proprietary components, for example, Microsoft Windows, to be used in voting systems. If we allow such components, how can we protect the integrity of the election from even a single dishonest programmer?"

The draft Voting System Standards that are the subject of the hearing are on the web at: http://www.fec.gov/pages/vss/vss.html.