ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES ARE A MIXED BAG
September 17, 2004
Thirty percent of voters will use electronic voting machines during the 2004 election, but concerns abound over the accuracy of the new machines, says USA Today.
Electronic voting was intended to avoid the confusion associated with punch-card voting systems. However, electronic voting machines have created trouble as well.
- In a Bernalillo County, N.M. election two years ago, only 36,000 votes were recorded out of 48,000 votes cast using touch-screen voting.
- In California's primary election last March, hundreds of voters were turned away and 250 polling places opened late as poll workers had trouble getting electronic machines started.
- In this year's Florida primary, voters cast 350,000 votes using touch-screen machines, but 1 percent of the votes were not recorded.
- State-sponsored studies in Maryland found potential security risks in 16,000 new machines.
Critics complain that the federal government has not enacted voting machine standards because manufacturers are reluctant to allow the review of their software for proprietary reasons.
However, Harris N. Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), argues that the machines are indeed accurate, and that the machines prohibit over-voting, the most common form of voting inaccuracy. Moreover, he notes the Election Assistance Commission is creating a library of voting software versions so that security concerns over potential glitches can be checked.
Source: Editorial, "Electronic Ballots Gail to Gain Vote of Confidence," USA Today, September 13, 2004; and Harris N. Miller, "E-Voting Works," USA Today, September 13, 2004.
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