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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Will Electronic Voting Problems Exist on Super Tuesday?

George Wenschhof

After two national elections in 2000 and 2004 where strong arguments exist that voting irregularities altered the actual outcome of the election, much is still left to be done to calm the fears of many American voters.

In 2000, the country that prides itself on a Democracy with free and open elections, was faced with arguments of "hanging chads" on paper ballots in Florida. The challenge of this vote irregularity was ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2004, the argument moved to problems with electronic voting machines supplied by a company named Diebold. These machines did not have paper trails for back-up and arguments flared over the lack of machines placed in heavy minority voting districts which resulted in long lines and long waiting periods for many voters. Many lower income individuals, fearful of taking too much time away from work, did not stay to cast their vote.

As we move into super Tuesday, 7 of the 22 states holding primaries that day will be done by the caucus manner so some sort of paper ballot will be involved. The other 15 states will be using some sort of electronic voting. To see a list of all the states holding primaries
click here:

Common cause issued a press release on January 31st saying that six states holding primaries on super Tuesday have a high risk of voting machine mishaps. Click here to read the release:

The six states identified at high risk were Arkansas - 47 delegates, Delaware - 23 delegates, Georgia - 103 delegates, New Jersey - 127 delegates, New York - 281 delegates, and Tennessee - 85 delegates. Another five states were categorized in the mid-risk range and only four states, California - 441 delegates, Connecticut - 60 delegates, Illinois - 185 delegates, and Massachusetts - 121 delegates were in the low risk category.

Let's hope the voting irregularities are at a minimum on super Tuesday and more importantly, let's hope our elected officials across the country move quickly to appropriate the necessary funds to ensure every state is rated as a low risk prior to the general election in November.

1 comment:

Jim French said...

I do hope that eventually we will get out voting into the 21st Century. The issue of paper trails is really a paper tiger. One of the fears seems to be based on the idea that the machines are interconnected with results communicated automatically. This is not the case in any state. The voting record exists with triple redundancy. Security comparable to the highest level of data is practiced with regard to these machines. All of the tests that have been conducted have permitted free access and have encouraged hacking due to test design. Hence the reports in the press have been most misleading. Election officials have been reluctant to present counter arguments for fear of seeming to be defensive. Even optical scanning permits invalid ballots, while computerized voting prompts individuals to vote properly and speeds up the process.