Monday, November 22, 2004

Problems are cited on electronic voting

By Sam Hananel, Associated Press, November 19, 2004

Last week I was in Washington, D.C. and participated in the Election Verification Project's news conference. The project issued a statement that calls for federal and state legislation requiring a voter-verified paper record, mandatory national electronic voting standards and routine auditing of computerized vote counts.


Excerpts from the AP story:

WASHINGTON -- The record use of electronic voting machines on Nov. 2 led to hundreds of voting irregularities and shows the need for higher standards, a voting rights group said yesterday.

The companies that make the electronic machines said their equipment was reliable and had relatively few problems considering the millions who cast their ballots.

The Election Verification Project reviewed nearly 900 reports of electronic voting problems on Election Day, ranging from lost votes in North Carolina to miscounted votes in Ohio and breakdowns in New Orleans that caused long lines and shut down polling places.

''The documented problems with touch-screen machines, vote-counting irregularities, and the fact that votes cannot be verified or recounted show us how vulnerable our democracy will be in the future when there are disputed or unclear results," said Kim Alexander, a project member and president of the California Voter Foundation.

The members of the verification project said they hadn't seen evidence that the problems would change the election results -- President Bush captured 60.5 million votes to Senator John F. Kerry's 57.1 million. But they said the problems raised the specter of that possibility in a closer race.

Without a paper trail of electronic votes, they said, officials can never be sure that machines are recording votes correctly. ''If this were the banking industry, the gambling industry, there would be standards for making sure the software was working right," Alexander said.

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