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Ear to the Ground

Government Agency Slams Voting Machines

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Posted on Dec 1, 2006

The federal government has finally taken notice of absurdly unverifiable electronic voting equipment, with new recommendations just released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  The research group argues that a paper trail is necessary for election officials to be able to conduct a credible recount. But don’t get your hopes up: Even if Congress agrees with the findings, real oversight could be years away.


Washington Post:

In a report hailed by critics of electronic voting, NIST said that voting systems should allow election officials to recount ballots independently from a voting machine’s software. The recommendations endorse “optical-scan” systems in which voters mark paper ballots that are read by a computer and electronic systems that print a paper summary of each ballot, which voters review and elections officials save for recounts.

Voters in Maryland cast ballots on electronic machines that produce no paper record of each vote; in the District and Loudoun County, voters can choose between using such machines and optical-scan systems. Other Northern Virginia jurisdictions, and many counties across the state, use electronic voting systems exclusively.

NIST’s recommendations are to be debated next week before the Technical Guidelines Development Committee, charged by Congress to develop standards for voting systems. To become effective, NIST’s recommendations must then be adopted by the Election Assistance Commission, which was created by Congress to promote changes in election systems after the 2000 debacle in Florida.

If the commission agrees with NIST, the practical impact may not be felt until 2009 or 2010, the soonest that new standards would be implemented. The standards that the Election Assistance Commission will adopt are voluntary, but most states require election officials to deploy voting systems that meet national or federal criteria.

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By Eleanore Kjellberg, December 2, 2006 at 4:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Who needs, computers, let’s just dip our middle finger in some purple ink, and cast a “purple finger ballot”—we can periodically change the colors or, try multi-color fingers—so let’s “give the finger” to our favorite candidate—is there a better way to demonstrate how many Americans feel about Election Day

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By DennisD, December 1, 2006 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The real crime is that there isn’t a time machine available so that we can undo the 2000 and 2004 elections. I wonder how much that study cost the American taxpayer. But then we can always just tack it onto the national debt like everything else. I can’t pass up the oxymoron of “oversight” and “Congress” in the same sentence. Priceless.

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By Eleanore Kjellberg, December 1, 2006 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Who needs, computers, let’s just dip our middle finger in some purple ink, and cast a “purple finger ballot”—we can periodically change the colors or, try multi-color fingers—so let’s “give the finger” to our favorite candidate—is there a better way to demonstrate how many Americans feel about Election Day.

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By Jeanne, December 1, 2006 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We needed a study to tell us this? God forbid Congress has a fire. They’ll need a study to tell them to put it out. Clueless.

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By Margaret Currey, December 1, 2006 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This country is very short sighted, wen our country was new, the election and the date the president took office was needed so the new/old president could get to Washington in time to take the oath of office, so why the need to know the results in one night?  So go back to the old way of voting or use scanners, maybe it will take longer to know who will be president and vice president but I would want my vote to count.  It takes no stretch of the iminigation to see that Kathleen Harris’s run for congress, and that the district in question has a lot of Democrat voters, I mean the facts are right there for anyone to see.  Even if it means Palosi would get the wrath of the Republicians I think that if people spend their time and money to run for congress should not let a sham vote count keep them from office.  The Republicians should be asamed of flying the flag, and talking about Democracy and try to discourage people from voting, and the people who want to vote are not the rich, so they are afraid of losing office, I mean the hyprocrats that use religion to get into office and then show the people they are the very devil themselves.

Margaret from Vancouver, Washington

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