Groups demand e-voting improvements

Electronic voting in this month's election wasn't a catastrophe, but further steps are required before voters can be confident that electronically recorded results are accurate, say members of public interest groups concerned with e-voting.

"We're basically assuming that these computerized voting machines are flawless," said Verified Voting founder David Dill, speaking at a Nov. 18 press conference held by those advocacy groups. "It is true that nothing is perfect, [but] I think we're well short of what we can achieve."

A paper receipt documenting voters' choices should be a national requirement, said Will Doherty, executive director of Verified Voting. "Because we have paperless e-voting machines, there's no way for us to detect fraud," he said. No pattern of fraud emerged in the past election, Doherty added, but without a paper record of voters' intentions, fraud is difficult to detect.

"There is always going to be the potential for fraud and abuse in the system," Chellie Pingree, president of Common Cause. "But we ought to know the difference between somebody who's illegally trying to change the outcome of an election" and a malfunctioning machine.

Other suggested steps include better training for poll workers, an alternative means for collecting votes if e-voting machines break down and enforceable national standards.

"What's missing in our system is checks and balances," Dill said.

"We're playing Russian roulette with electronic voting machines, and the gun is still loaded," said Faye Anderson, a public policy consultant.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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