Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Local News

November 3, 2008

Electronic voting is a touchy issue

Voting officials must decide what to do when voters report problems casting ballots on touch-screen voting machines.

(Continued)



Sherbet said that having a printer hook up, which provides the paper audit trail, is “not an end-all-be-all” solution and has its problems. He explained that when a printer hookup is added to a machine it provides an "added point of failure."

He added that in the case of a recount, the machines would provide a printout, much like tape from an adding machine, which could be 2 feet per ballot for a presidential election. With 720,000 estimated voters, he said Dallas County's recount printout would be equivalent to the length of a trip from Dallas to San Antonio.

“Human error is way more prevalent,” he said when relying on this type of recount system. He explained to recount iVotronic votes, an administrator could print out a report from the machine's files. This would show an image of the ballot and a count.

Sherbet noted that all electronic voting machines could benefit from more redundancy and audits.

He said machine audits could inform administrators if each is functioning properly and tell whether the machine's software is the certified version. Sherbet said that some computer experts have suggested they would like to be able to view the source code, or the proprietary “blue print” of the voting system - a trade secret electronic voting machine companies do not want to share.

Some say this type of auditing could allow computer scientists to determine if the machine's program performs the intended task without error.

With today's technology, Sherbet suggested there could be alternative ways to capture votes, like with video cameras.

The California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology teamed up for the multi-disciplinary collaborative project, the CalTech/MIT Voting Technology Project.

Several articles on the collaborative's Web site (www.votingtechnologyproject.org/electaud.html) discuss systems for auditing votes via new technology, including “Voter Verifiable Audio Audit Transcript Trail,” to improve DRE voting machine security. In addition to producing a transcript of ballots that can be counted either by hand, by computer or by both methods, the VVAATT system allows voters to confirm selections as they proceed, rather than after the fact. The audio transcript format makes it difficult for individual votes to be accidentally or intentionally separated out from the larger voting pool.

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