The Lamp

Where truth can be shared.

Investigate Electronic Voting Scrutiny

Posted by thelamp on November 30, 2006

This month’s mid-term election fueled growing anxiety about new electronic voting systems around the country. Although fears of a massive breakdown on Nov. 7 were not realized, serious problems did emerge. As a result, many analysts are warning that a replay of the 2000 election debacle in Florida could occur unless security is improved and all voters have a chance to verify how their votes were cast.

Since about a third of the nation used the new voting systems for the first time, the accuracy and integrity of the systems must be assured. Congress needs to take a hard look at e-voting and a host of other election issues and rules.

Regardless of the technology used, voting must be dependable and voters must have full confidence that their votes are in fact counted.

A bill in the U.S. House would require a paper trail verified by voters for all electronic systems in the nation. It has the support of 216 members, two short of a majority. Additionally, California and 26 other states now have a voter-verified paper trail.

The Center for Moral Clarity fully supports the push for better security and transparency. In 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in response to the 2000 crisis. The legislation provided federal money to upgrade systems; however, it did not require a paper trail.

The new touch-screen systems could be responsible for one of the most serious controversies of the election, which involves a congressional race in Florida.
In that election, almost 18,000 people in Sarasota County who voted in various races did not vote in the hotly contested congressional contest between Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings. Sarasota’s 15 percent “no vote’ rate was four to five times higher than the rate in surrounding counties.

“The complaints need to be investigated with a sense of urgency, because democracy is jeopardized when the electoral process is disputed,” said Pastor Rod Parsley.

This time, the disputed Florida election did not determine a national outcome.
That may not always be the case. If the 18,000 disputed ballots had been cast in Virginia or Montana – where Senate races were determined by about half that number of votes – control of the Senate would have been at stake.

Florida was not alone in wrestling with technical issues. There were other serious problems. Denver voters waited in line three hours or more because a digital voter-verification system kept crashing. The mayor called the lack of preparation for a new system ‘outrageous,’ and the Denver County clerk resigned.

States and counties have to make it easier for voters to see and verify their votes. Election officials also have to do a better job testing and retesting their equipment before Election Day, as well as auditing it afterward. If voters lose confidence that their vote will be accurately tallied, they may choose not to vote at all.



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