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National Issues

A Quick Fix for Electronic Voting PDF  | Print |  Email
By New York Times Editorial   
January 16, 2008
When Americans go to the polls in November, many will likely have to cast their ballots on unreliable paperless electronic voting machines. If the election is close, the country could end up with a rerun of 2000’s bitterly contentious and mistrusted count. In an effort to avoid another such disaster, Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, plans to introduce a bill this week that would help address the weaknesses in electronic voting. Congress should pass it without delay.

The flaws of electronic voting machines have been thoroughly documented by academic studies and by voters’ experiences. The machines are far too vulnerable to hacking that could change the outcomes of elections. They are also so prone to mechanical error and breakdown that there is no way to be sure that the totals they report are correct. In some cases, these machines have been known to “flip” votes — award votes cast for one candidate to an opponent.

The solution is for all votes to be recorded on paper records. Voters can then verify that their choice has been accurately reflected — and the paper record can be used as a backup for the electronic machines. Whenever votes are tallied on electronic machines, there should be an audit of paper records as a check on the electronic results. If the paper totals do not match the electronic tallies, something has clearly gone wrong — and the tally of the paper ballots can be treated as the official one.

Read the Entire Editorial at The New York Times
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