Paperless voting hits snag

Wired has reported that two ranking California legislators have asked the Secretary of State to decertify all paperless touch-screen voting terminals before the fall election.

The allowable “electronic” alternative would be optical scan machines which use a paper ballot marked with pen or pencil. They provide voters with instant feedback (you can see for whom you voted); provide election officials with speedy counting (voters pass their ballots through an electronic scanner, which tallies the votes); and provide an unequivocal paper trail.

And why should counties opt for scanners instead of touch-screens? Cost comes to mind first; Congressional Budget Office research also shows that paper ballots have a lower error rate and are more secure.

Finally, as reported in RISKS-Digest paper voting always works. News reports the day of the California primary suggested widespread “boot” (start-up) issues, which meant that voters had to return later if they wanted to vote — a nice feature in an era with already low voter turn-out. So why the rush to touch-screen voting?

Wired (12 Mar); (10 Mar); TechTV (5 Mar)


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