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The ITT List

Tuesday, Nov 2, 2004, 5:35 pm

Premature e-speculation

By Jessica Clark

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Watching the 24-hour news channels, commentators keep reporting that surprisingly few problems with electronic voting have come down the pike. But how the $#% can they know that without the vote being counted & the exit polls compared to the "results"? May look fine on-screen, but with no paper verification, you might have just voted for Jiminy freaking Cricket & never known it.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation tells a different story about the reliablility of the electronic vote. Verified Voting isn't so sanguine either--they write:

Technologists warn that electronic voting machines are flawed. They say we should "trust but verify." Others disagree. For example Florida's Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore counters technologists' analysis of electronic voting machine flaws with her claim: "It's just a bunch of lies." But Broward County is now unable to comply with Florida law because of the flaws technologists, Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), and many others have pointed out!
Many people are very troubled by the use of uncertified software in recent California elections. Many are concerned about the backgrounds of some programmers and managers who control the secret voting machine software.
Our primary concern is the threat that unverifiable electronic voting poses to elections in the United States. We have been concerned that without a paper record verified by the voter, there would be no way of knowing whether votes were recorded accurately and no way to do a meaningful recount if one is necessary.
Now we are seeing these predicted problems occurring in real elections. We are seeing election results that will remain forever in dispute because an audit was impossible. We are seeing that electronic miscounts of votes is no longer a theory--it's a fact.
What if the miscounts we know of are only the tip of an undetected iceberg of electronic miscounts? They might be. We have no way of knowing.

Let's pass H.R.2239/S.2437.

Jessica Clark is a writer, editor and researcher, with more than 15 years of experience spanning commercial, educational, independent and public media production. Currently she is the Research Director for American University’s Center for Social Media. She also writes a monthly column for PBS’ MediaShift on new directions in public media. She is the author, with Tracy Van Slyke, of Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics Through Networked Progressive Media (2010, New Press).

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