Saturday, October 02, 2004

US techno-voting troubles

Can high-tech voting machines prevent a repeat of America's 2000 electoral fiasco—or will they make things worse?

IT IS not often that the dry subject of voting technology makes the headlines. It famously happened in America's presidential election in 2000, when the previously obscure differences between hanging, pregnant and dimpled “chads”—the small flakes of paper punched out of cards by mechanical voting machines—suddenly became a national crisis.


Touch-screen machines have problems of their own, as another Florida election vividly illustrated last January. In a local election held on January 6th in parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, 10,844 votes were cast, and Ellyn Bogdanoff won by 12 votes. Under Florida state law, a result this close triggers a manual recount. But no recount was possible, because there was nothing to count: the voting machines' only paper output is the final tally.

The lack of a paper trail has made new touch-screen voting machines hugely controversial. As Robert Wexler, a Democratic congressman, likes to point out, “a reprint is not a recount”. Critics also complain that there is no way to tell if the machines are faulty, insecure or rigged.

The Economist - Sep 16th 2004
Electronic voting: The trouble with technology

Link from crisispapers.org - Electoral Integrity.
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