Letter to the editor
A letter to the editor on Dec. 19, 2000, claimed that the reason most voting systems were not automated was that "the companies providing the paper ballots were making too much money (and probably sharing it with those in a position to change the system)."
I happen to be responsible for the largest voting system in the state of Washington (King County) with over a third of the state's voting population. We have not chosen to fully automate our elections systems because we have yet to find a system that was reliable enough not to warrant a paper trail to back it up. We have one of the most sophisticated [optical scan] systems produced, but even it needs to have a backup.
At the last election, we had four required recountsone being the race for our U.S. senatorand one requested recount. The recounts went without a hitch, and the reliability was enhanced by the fact that any questions of reliability could be answered by examining the ballots themselves if necessary.
I can also assure you that my ethics board would be all over me like a blanket if it was found that I so much as accepted a cup of coffee from one of our vendors. Because credibility is my stock in trade, I would not accept one, never mind a financial kickback, even if there was no ethics board.
I have no doubt that some time in the future, a completely automated and reliable voting system will be available, along the lines of Internet voting. I am supportive because it would greatly reduce the cost of running the elections and be a big savings to the taxpayers who ultimately are paying for it.
Let's work together toward that goal rather than making groundless accusations about why we haven't already adopted a system that is somewhat flawed.
Name withheld upon request