19 May 2004

Should voting go paperless?

BY Michael Hardy
May 10, 2004

When voters go to the polls in November, they will face any one of several voting machines. What remains unclear is how many voters will end up using the increasingly controversial touch-screen machines. For those who do, the question is whether they will see any paper record of their vote.

The debate about the systems is growing louder as the election nears, and there is widespread disagreement about them, even within specific groups. Some computer scientists consider them to be vulnerable to malicious code, while others don't. Many election officials like the machines, while others voice security concerns.


META Group Inc. analyst Amy Santenello, who was not at the hearing, said poorly trained poll workers are the most significant problem for jurisdictions adopting DREs.

Without training, workers are likely to make mistakes, such as the Florida crew that locked up their machines at the end of the day during the 2002 midterm elections without realizing they had to transfer the vote data to a centralized computer to be tallied, Santenello said. In that case, the mistake was discovered in time for the votes to be counted.

Should voting go paperless?

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