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FCW Insider: Election '08 -- Paper or plastic?

I was surprised today to find myself faced with a dilemma taken straight from the pages of Federal Computer Week.


Just last Friday, I wrote the Buzz of the Week about the on-going debate over electronic voting. I pointed out that fears about potential voter fraud had heightened concerns about e-voting and its usual lack of a paper-based audit trail. I also noted that if such fears went unrealized, election officials were still faced with widespread security concerns (read the full piece here).


My thoughts were based on a decade of news coverage, both in FCW and other publications. I cannot say I have given it much thought when actually voting. Each year, I've just showed up and voted on whatever machine was provided.


Until this year. When I arrived at my polling place in Fairfax County, Virginia, I had a choice: I could vote with the traditional e-voting system (no audit trail that I know of) or a paper ballot. Voters marked the paper ballot with a pen and slipped it into a scanner.


What is an editor to do? Despite everything I know, I've never worried greatly about the integrity of my vote after punching the "vote" button. But having just written about the importance of an audit trail last week, I would have felt hypocritical using the electronic system, so I choice paper.


As I understand it, Fairfax County won't make me think so hard next time: the county supposedly is reverting to paper.


 

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Nov 04, 2008 at 12:18 PM


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