Sunday, May 16, 2004

Akron Beacon Journal - May 6, 2004
Panel warned on e-vote receipts

A Georgia elections official warned a federal commission Wednesday that a rush to back up electronic voting machines with paper ballots before the November election would create unnecessary confusion for voters and poll workers.

Yes, and an unfair and incorrect election would be much better than creating any stress for the voters and poll workers.

Manufacturers, such as Diebold, insist a paper trail isn't necessary, but say they will oblige states that want it when new federal standards are established. That's the job of the bipartisan commission, although the four-member panel lacks the power to enforce any standards it sets.

Chairman DeForest B. Soaries Jr. said he didn't expect the commission to issue national standards requiring paper ballots when it makes preliminary recommendations next week, followed by more detailed guidelines next month. The commission, the Republican said, will issue ``best practice'' guidelines for state and local officials, such as urging poll workers to keep a stack of paper ballots available in case electronic machines fail to operate.

"We will not decide on what machines people will buy,'' Soaries said at the commission's first public hearing Wednesday.

The commission has said it is woefully underfunded, with only $1.2 million of its $10 million budget appropriated. Its members have cautioned that they might not have the resources to immediately forestall widespread voting problems. Soaries has said the commission will need $2 million more this year and $10 million in 2005 to fulfill its mission of restoring public faith in electronic voting.

A Bush speaks

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush indicated he's not concerned about using the paperless machines in November.

"I'm afraid a lot of the concerns about this are really to try to create a cloud of controversy during the election to motivate people to vote and there's got to be a better way to do that,'' Bush said. "You can talk about issues and ideas, maybe, instead of scaring people.''
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