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E-voting hacks to get Capitol Hill spotlight

California Democrat plans to hold a hearing on a recent report in which computer scientists chronicled a wide array of security holes in electronic machines certified for use in her state.

A recent report documenting computer scientists' ability to hack into voting machines certified for use in the state of California has already begun reverberating on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who happens to be one of the chief sponsors of a bill that would prohibit paperless voting machines by the 2010 federal elections, says she plans to hold a hearing in September on the report in the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, which she leads. The politicians are expected to break for the summer at the end of this week.

In a statement Tuesday, Feinstein expressed dismay at "how easily these machines could be hacked into and election results distorted," based on her reading of the report.

"The findings are yet another reason that states and counties should consider a move to optical scan machines that provide an auditable, individual without having to rely on a separate printer," she went on.

The study, commissioned by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, focused on machines made by Diebold Election Systems, Hart InterCivic, and Sequoia Voting Systems. The University of California researchers who conducted the testing rattled off a list of security weaknesses they were able to exploit in each of the machines--although they didn't attempt to quantify how difficult it was to carry out the hacks.