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Kazakhstan's Electronic-Voting System Challenged

(RFE/RL) ALMATY, August 16, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Two leading Kazakh information technology (IT) experts are challenging the security of a new electronic-voting system to be used in early parliamentary elections on August 18, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

During a press conference at Almaty's National Press Club today, Zhandoz Kashkimbaev and Bakhyt Qayraqbay called on Kazakh voters to use traditional paper ballots instead of casting their votes on the electronic device.

The electronic-voting system, which was introduced during Kazakhstan's 2004 parliamentary elections, has been approved and recommended by the Central Election Commission.

However, the two IT experts say the electronic system makes it easier for the election authorities to manipulate votes if they would want to.

"The system is well-protected from possible external meddling, but it is vulnerable to possible internal interference," Qayraqbay said.

The authorities have dismissed the two men's claims as "baseless."

Samat Uvaliev is in charge of the electronic-voting system at the Kazakh Central Election Commission.

Uvaliev told RFE/RL that authorities would not be able to interfere with the voting system. He said the system's operations will be closely monitored by independent observers.

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RFE/RL's coverage of Kazakhstan. The website of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service.