More E-Voting: Am I Sounding Like Cassandra Yet?

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I guess I'm not the only one to have considered the potential problems of electronic voting machines that produce no paper trail. Though, now it looks like people are hoping that the paper trail-enabled systems fail: E-Vote Printer's High Stakes Test.

"That's what we're hearing, that a lot of election officials hope we fail because they don't want to be bothered with paper ballots," said Steve George, spokesman for Nevada's secretary of state.

Several states, responding to public outcry for a physical record of votes, have mandated or announced legislative plans to demand that e-voting systems print a paper record so voters can verify that the machine registered their vote accurately before the record drops into a ballot box. The states include California, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

But many county election officials oppose the idea, saying printers will create more problems for poll workers if they break down or run out of paper, and they will cause longer poll lines if voters take more time to check their ballots. The officials also don't relish the election recounts and lawsuits that could arise if paper records don't match final digital vote tallies.

Well, that's nice. Are they saying it would be much better if people just didn't hear about the discrepancy between voter intent and the machine result?

I'll say it again, just because I can: this new technology does not solve the problem. There have been no massive breakdowns in voting because of the cost of ballots, or the lines, or people taking time to verify their voting. In fact, the problem in Florida was precisely because people didn't verify their ballots. The only things that have been a problem with voting machines both in Florida and elsewhere is a lack of clarity of use, and no clear intent. That can be solved with a touchscreen and a machine-punched ballot. Attempting to change anything is simply creating more problems than it's solving.

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This voting machine issue is interesting.

One of the few things New York State has right is its voting system. There is virtually no voter fraud reported here -- even in New York City.

But, of course, with millions of federal dollars dangled in front of it, Albany is setting about to fix that.

First, the dependable (albeit venerable) mechanical voting machines will go. The Legislature is wrangling over whether or not they dare to continue requiring ID to register (and a signature when voting), and, now, of course, a handicapped group is demanding improved access to polling places (absentee ballots? - I know that's probably a hateful opinion).

I'm a software developer yet this is one area where I think mechanical devices are still preferable. And the fact that electronic voting machines without paper trails have even been allowed speaks volumes about our descent from reason.


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This page contains a single entry by published on May 28, 2004 8:46 AM.

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