[LINK] An Important Election Safeguard
brd at iimetro.com.au
Sat Jun 11 17:50:25 EST 2005
An Important Election Safeguard
New York Times
June 10, 2005
There are many problems with American elections, but none more serious
than the rise of paperless electronic voting, whose results cannot be
trusted. Grass-roots reformers are in the middle of a two-day lobbying
blitz on Capitol Hill in support of a House bill that would require that
electronic voting machines in federal elections produce voter-verifiable
paper records. It is an important measure that should be passed without
Electronic voting has been rolled out nationwide without necessary
safeguards. The machines' computers can be programmed to steal votes
from one candidate and give them to another. There are also many ways
hackers can break in to tamper with the count. Polls show that many
Americans do not trust electronic voting in its current form; such
doubts are a serious problem in a democracy.
The solution is to require that each machine produce a paper record that
can be inspected and verified by the voter. The paper records are then
stored, and can be counted after the polls close. If the results on the
machine do not match the tally of the paper records, it will be clear
that there is a problem.
The states have taken the lead on electronic voting reform. Nineteen
states have paper-trail requirements, including major states like
California and Ohio. But a federal law is still badly needed. Any state
can cast the deciding electoral votes in a presidential election. Voters
across the country are entitled to know that the president was elected
on machines that can be trusted.
The House resolution, sponsored by Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat,
would require not only paper trails, but also random audits of the
machines' vote counts, and it would ban the use of undisclosed software.
The bill, H.R. 550, has 135 co-sponsors, but it needs more support,
especially from Republicans.
The lobbying effort that wraps up today - which is supported by groups
like Common Cause and the Electronic Frontier Foundation - is aimed at
winning that backing. Every member of Congress who cares about American
democracy should get behind Mr. Holt's bill.
By the turn of this century, we will live in a paperless society
-- Roger Smith, chairman of General Motors, 1986
brd at iimetro.com.au
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