Site Map
Voting News
Contact Us
About Us

is NOT!
associated with

We must redouble efforts to remove glitches from electronic voting system

 By Asheville Citizen-Times
Nov. 29, 2004 6:28 p.m.

There is a disagreement in many circles about whether a paper trail is the right approach in ensuring the integrity of our election system, which is increasingly relying on electronic voting machines.

There should be no disagreement on one point, however, that being the current system leaves much to be desired.

Generally, the 2004 election appears to have gone smoothly. But a troubling number of glitches have been reported, including some significant ones here in North Carolina.

The race for agriculture commissioner in North Carolina is sort of a poster child for what can go wrong with electronic voting. Currently, Republican Steve Troxler leads Britt Cobb, the Democratic incumbent, by around 2,300 votes.

That's fewer than the number of votes lost in a single county, Carteret, after its touch-screen voting system quit counting votes because it had exceeded its storage capacity, and the result is an election outcome in limbo.

Considering more than 3 million votes were cast, the tightness of this race should again show the truth in the old saying "every vote counts.''

The problem in this case is making sure every vote that's cast is counted.

A special committee has been created by state legislative leaders to look at the issue of electronic voting machines; the 13-member panel can issue recommendations to the General Assembly and will issue a final report early in 2006.

In the long run, it's probably impossible to create a perfect voting system. There will forever be less-than- honorable people out there trying to figure a way to game the system.

But that doesn't mean we don't have to try, because the stakes here are high.

In comments to the News & Observer of Raleigh, State Sen. Austin Allran, R-Catawba, pretty much nailed the main worries about electronic voting machines: "They can be programmed to do things they shouldn't be doing. The public doesn't know how these machines work. I'm not totally sure the boards of election understand it. And there's no central state standard.''

Until these concerns are answered, there will forever be suspicions among voters about the legitimacy of elections.

Democracy is a precious concept; voting is central to it, and therefore our best efforts must be given to create an open, honest system.

A paper trail would certainly seem to be part of that. In many cases current electronic voting systems are sort of faith-based tools - there's no paper record that reflects the votes cast. The lack of a paper trail that ensures a secret ballot yet is verifiable for voting is downright shocking.

Speaking of the Carteret vote, Stanford University computer scientist David Dill told the Associated Press, "I can't believe that anyone would design a machine so badly that votes could be lost this way.''

Well, someone did. And it has to be fixed.

Previous Page

Election Problem Log image
2004 to 2009


Accessibility Issues
Accessibility Issues

Cost Comparisons
Cost Comparisons

Flyers & Handouts

VotersUnite News Exclusives

Search by

Copyright © 2004-2010 VotersUnite!