The Times, they are a Learning

A new editorial on the New York Times lays out the case for election integrity and credibility in: A Tale of Three (Electronic Voting) Elections <read>

Electronic voting has made great strides in reliability, but it has a long way to go. When reformers push for greater safeguards, they often argue that future elections could produce the wrong result because of a computer glitch or be stolen through malicious software. That’s being too nice.

There have already been elections in which it is impossible to be certain that the right candidate was declared the winner. Here are three such races. It is not just remarkable that these elections were run so badly, but also that the flaws are still common — and could easily create havoc in this fall’s voting.

They provide three examples and three lessons. The first and third of which we have not learned well enough in Connecticut

Lesson: Electronic voting makes large-scale vote theft easy. A patch slipped onto voting machines or centralized vote tabulators can change an election’s outcome. Every piece of software must be scrutinized by neutral experts. If there is not enough time, election officials need a backup plan, such as conducting voting entirely on paper ballots…

Lesson:
Electronic voting machines must produce a voter-verifiable paper trail for each vote so voters can see that their choices register properly. In a disputed election, the paper, not the machine tallies, should decide who wins…

Lesson: Paper ballots alone are not enough. There must be strong audit laws that mandate comprehensive hand recounts when an election is close.

After the 2000 election debacle, Americans demanded a better system of voting. What we have gotten is new technology with different flaws. If the presidential race is close, this year’s “hanging chad” could be a questionable result on electronic voting machines that cannot be adequately investigated.

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