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E-voting Believers (2 letters)

October 30, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - You could have it all with e-voting if election officials would simply insist on e-voting machines that print out each person’s vote ["Q&A: Go Back to Paper Ballots, Says E-voting Expert,", Sept. 20]. Then the voter could verify the vote he cast before finalizing it. The voter would leave the paper verification (which would not identify him) with the precinct staff to serve as an audit trail for recounts. You would still get the advantage of electronic counting of votes without all the problems associated with manual vote counting. The paper would just be used for recounts or spot checks of the e-voting machines to make sure the counts were correct. It has always been up to voters to make sure they vote as they intended by inspecting their vote.

David McClanahan
Software architect
Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Electronic voting has been around for over a decade, and, yes, it continues to be haunted by concerns over security, accuracy and integrity. But Avi Rubin doesn’t acknowledge that e-voting works very well in states like Nevada.

It’s no coincidence that Nevada is leading the nation in e-voting. Nevada’s regulation of the gaming industry, particularly slot machines, is stricter than federal and most state regulations for e-voting. In fact, when Nevada introduced its e-voting systems in 2004, the state Gaming Control Board’s Electronic Services Division, which is responsible for verifying the security of electronic gambling machines, reviewed the system and declared it secure.

Rubin also doesn’t seem to be aware that the Association for Information Technology Professionals adopted a nine-point recommendation for e-voting standards in 2004 based primarily on Nevada’s gaming industry regulations, or that the AITP is leading other IT professional organizations in influencing federal and state e-voting standards.

The AITP’s nine points are:

1. Public access to the related software to permit independent inspection and confidence in its accuracy.

2. Independent testing, including random spot checks, similar to existing Nevada provisions for slot machine testing.

3. Meticulous, constantly updated standards for machines.

4. Scrutiny of manufacturers to ensure their independence from parties and candidates.

5. An independent testing lab with an arm’s-length relationship with the manufacturers it polices and that’s open to inquiries from the public.

6. A mechanism for immediate Election Day inspection of suspected defective machines.

7. A mechanism for voter review of paper copies of ballots prior to casting a vote and preservation of those ballots for any required recounts.

8. An alternative voting mechanism, such as early postal balloting, for those who refuse to trust the machines.

9. Random but thorough Election Day parallel testing of voting machines.

Walking away from e-voting is not the answer. If states would incorporate these recommendations in their e-voting requirements, secure and reliable e-voting would be attainable.

Norbert J. Kubilus, CCP MBCS
AITP Legislative Affairs Committee
North Las Vegas, Nev.

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