Letter: Voting systems get short shrift

The article titled "Voting under a cloud of suspicion" does not go far enough to detail the clear benefits of electronic voting systems or the technological evolution of voting systems in the past 100-plus years.

The simple fact is that electronic voting systems provide the same or greater level of auditability. Rather than simply getting rid of the new technology, the question should be: How do we build the regulatory and administrative procedures around this new technology? Electronic voting systems can maintain multiple levels of auditable records in a pristine format that permit a clear review of voter intent. After all, it is the issue of voter intent from the 2000 election that led to the enactment of the Help America Vote Act.

The punch card systems of yesteryear provided a physical record of the vote, but its existence did nothing for voter confidence as the review process unfolded over 36 days. In regards to disability access, it is also clear that electronic voting systems provide the greatest level of access for voters including those with unique language requirements or disabilities.

Critics of electronic voting systems clearly want to develop their own products. From a marketplace perspective, everyone should welcome their thoughts and encourage their commitment to develop a product that addresses their concerns. After all, voting systems have been in place since the late 19th century and we should recognize the evolutionary nature of this technology.

However, we should not throw our hands up and take steps backward because it appears difficult. No one likes change, and negative public relations campaigns as seen in the past seven years, including preordained voting system reviews as seen in California, can only lead to an erosion of voter confidence.

Yet with all of these efforts to discredit electronic voting systems, voter confidence remains greater than 80 percent in poll after poll. Voter confidence is a real issue, but technological, regulatory and administrative innovations should be pursued that verify the integrity of electronic voting systems and maintain the fundamental principles of the market. History has shown that mandating a one-size-fits-all approach will amount to a tremendous step backward for the level of services available to voters and will eliminate incentives for the future development of innovative voting system platforms.

David Beirne
Executive Director
Election Technology Council


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