IDC: E-voting has long way to go

According to a new study from IDC Research Inc., electronic voting systems — despite the nearly $3.8 billion state and local governments have spent on them since 2002 — still have a long way to go before they will generate an accurate, timely and secure voting process.

The study, “Improving Voting System Investment, Credibility and Transparency” notes that although much of the e-voting equipment used in the 2000 election was replaced before the 2006 election, very little strategy was used to purchase the new systems and equipment.

The noted absence of a strategic vision led to the new systems being as complex, unproven and controversial as the older systems, said James Pettler, senior research analyst for strategy, governance and reporting at Government Insights, part of Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, who conducted the study.

While newer systems tend to be more easy to use, security improvements are lacking, Pettler said. Also, the new systems were bought only with upfront costs in mind. The upkeep, operation, storage, transport, repair and upgrades of the systems were not considered, which was a strategic blunder, according the study.

The study suggests strategies that governments could use to make better decisions, including adequate voting system standards, appropriately timed funding, transparency throughout the system certification process and ability to perform audits.

To make strategic long-term decisions, the study recommends governments begin maintaining records on lifecycle costs and begin using those cost analysis to make better purchases.

Ethan Butterfield is a staff writer for Government Computer News’ affiliate publication, Washington Technology.

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