Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Scattered e-voting problems anger computer scientists

By Rachel Konrad, Associated Press, 03/02/04


"There have been a few human errors, which you have in any election, but there have been no voting equipment problems at all," said Linda Lamone, Maryland election laws administrator.

That argument didn't placate voter advocates and computer scientists who have complained that electronic voting exposes elections to hackers and software bugs. They're upset that touchscreens don't produce paper records, making an accurate recount nearly impossible.

"The inherent fallibility of humans is precisely why we need a voter-verified paper trail," said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation. "Things will always go wrong in elections."


Glitches in California's Alameda County and in other states involved encoders, devices inserted into voting machines that enable the screens to display different party affiliations, languages or ballot measures.

In Maryland's Howard County, a computer server could not receive electronic data over a conventional modem, forcing a 90-minute delay while poll workers hand-delivered data cards to the registrar.

Some polling places in Maryland received wrong encoders, and one Georgia county apparently forgot to program them. Poll workers in one Atlanta precinct discovered some terminals that didn't work. But voters in both states resorted to paper ballots kept as backups.

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