Schwarzenegger signs e-voting 'paper trail' bill

New law requires paper backup for electronic ballots, amid nationwide concerns about flaws in e-voting systems.

Richard Shim Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Richard Shim
writes about gadgets big and small.
Richard Shim
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law Tuesday that requires a paper backup for ballots cast using electronic voting systems.

After aggressively deploying paperless e-voting setups, California is requiring machines to be retrofitted or replaced to meet the requirements of the new law, which will go into effect by the 2006 primaries. The law also prevents the certification of any new e-voting systems after Jan. 1, 2005, and prohibits purchase of systems after Jan. 1, 2006.

The bill, called SB 1438, was co-authored by Senators Ross Johnson, a Republican from Orange County, and Don Perata, a Democrat from Alameda County. Though other states have begun pursuing paper-trail legislation, California is among the first to enact a law.

The law is a response to nationwide criticisms over flaws in e-voting systems. Security researchers have said current systems have significant security vulnerabilities, and a paper trail has been the recommended method of ensuring the reliability and security of e-voting.

The Golden State's attorney general, Bill Lockyer, said he will sue Diebold, maker of e-voting machines used in California, for fraud. The state will charge that the company made false claims about its products, which were not tested or approved.