Proven e-voting benefits outweigh the concerns

There are plenty of implementation and policy problems with moving to electronic voting systems, but there is technology that has the potential to make the election process much easier for officials and voters, experts said.

The difficulty will be in solving those problems so that others can experience the improvements that some jurisdictions in the United States and around the world have encountered already, said Amy Santenello, senior research analyst at Meta Group Inc.

The benefits for citizens are immediate and obvious, in particular the improved services for voters with disabilities and those who are more comfortable using a language other than English, said several state and county election officials.

Serving multilingual communities becomes easier with e-voting systems, said David Orr, clerk for Cook County, Ill., which is the second-largest county in the country and includes

the Chicago-metropolitan area. The new systems

facilitate a much broader range of information

in multiple languages, reducing misunderstandings that occur when some forms are translated but others are not, he said.

For citizens with disabilities, especially for those who are visually impaired, the new systems will allow them to vote without assistance from a family member or polling official, Orr said.

Administering elections also will be much easier, said Bob Terwilliger, auditor in Washington state's Snohomish County. His county has had electronic voting technology for more than a year.

One advantage is that the new systems' step-by-step process will prevent situations in which a citizen mistakenly votes more than once. Officials will be more confident that voters left a section blank on a ballot because they chose to, not because they skipped something, Terwilliger said. Both of those are common situations that lead to problems with counting votes, he said.

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