Friday, November 10, 2006

Electronic voting machine slays nine?

Democrats are turning away from the problems with electronic voting machines because they happened to win this time around. Not so fast, says Brad Friedman in Computer World.

They didn't check with Bill Ritter, the Colorado gubernatorial candidate, who had to wait almost two hours to vote, or with Sean Kelley, a Denver resident, who said to the Post, "I can't believe I'm in the United States of America," before he gave up and went home without voting after waiting three hours in line when electronic machines broke down. Despite an emergency request, the courts in Colorado refused to allow the city's new consolidated "Election Centers" to remain open for extra hours that night.

Similar problems led to slightly more responsible officials ordering polls to be kept open longer than scheduled in at least eight other states due to voting machine problems.

Everybody, Democrats in particular since they're going to be the ones running the agenda in Congress, need to stay on top of this issue. The solution is easy, of course: a voter verifiable paper receipt and internal paper trail in the voting machine itself. Diebold makes ATMs without these kinds of electronic glitches and with much better accountability than their voting machines do. Why can't they track our votes like they track our money? Our votes are every bit as important.

Now that the Democrats are in Congress, we have the ability to affect real change on this issue. It has been, and this is a matter of public record, the Republicans who have been opposed to paper trails. Why they are opposed to them is a matter of speculation (one could posit that they didn't want to mess with a system that had been working to their advantage, since every "glitch" benefited the Republicans), but they shouldn't be. How hard would it be for a George Soros or Hugo Chavez to come along and finance the hacking of these machines to swing things the Democrats' way (not saying they would, but for the sake of discussion...)?

Paper trail. Insist upon it, especially if your Congress critter is a Democrat. Let's not give the Democrats a pass on this one the way the pro-life movement did regarding the Republicans' inattention on the abortion issue. Legislation mandating a paper trail for these electronic voting machines must be passed within the first 100 days or it will never happen. Arm twist to over-ride a Presidential veto if you have to, although I don't think they will. Once this issue gets brought to the American people, the President will bow to public pressure and accept the paper trails. It just makes sense.

This isn't about Republicans vs. Democrats; this is about the integrity of our democracy. It's an issue Republicans and Democrats should be able to come together on.

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