Sunday, October 24, 2004
e-voting means machine trusting
With the US presidential election less than two weeks away, the battle over electronic voting is raging stronger than ever. Opponents of the technology have resorted to a series of lawsuits in a last-ditch attempt to stop the use of the machines.
The debate centres on the use of electronic voting equipment, ATM-like machines that register votes digitally after people make their selections on a touch-screen. Nearly 30% of voters will place their ballot using these 'e-voting' machines when choosing the next US president.
Many watchdog groups are warning that tests conducted on e-voting hardware and software are insufficient, and that faulty machines could cause votes to be missed or registered incorrectly. It's not yet clear how serious these problems will be; early voting in a dozen or so states so far has thrown up only minor glitches.
"Voters using electronic machines without a paper trail will simply have to trust the good word of the vendors and local election officials that the electronic numbers recorded in the machine memories accurately reflect the intent of the electorate," says Matt Zimmerman, an attorney with the San Francisco-based Electronic Freedom Foundation, which studies civil liberties issues related to technology.
This is the fundamental question: would you rather trust machines (and by extension, everyone who has ever had access to those machines) or would you rather trust a few people counting ballots. Personally, I'd rather trust humans.
news @ nature.com - 22 October 2004
Battle to stop e-voting steps up