Thursday, April 3, 2008

"Emergency" Bill Tries to Make Electronic Voting More Accurate, But Will It?

Go to AlterNet original
Efforts to improve the machinery that will count the 2008 presidential vote fell prey to a classic Washington compromise on Wednesday, when a House committee approved a bill giving money to both opponents and supporters of controversial paperless electronic voting systems.

The "Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act of 2008," or H.R. 5036, now goes to the House floor, where its goal is helping cities and counties create a "verifiable" paper trail and audits for individual votes cast for president and Congress.

But just how that paper trail is achieved is broadly defined in the bill. Opponents of paperless electronic voting can seek federal funds to buy paper ballot-based systems, where voters mark ballots by hand and computer scanners tally the result. Several states, notably California, Ohio and Florida, are making this transition. Meanwhile, proponents of all-electronic voting can keep their machines but seek funds to add printers that theoretically will allow voters to see if their choices have been properly recorded.

Under the bill, the hand-marked paper ballots and new computer printouts would be used to verify the accuracy of vote counts. Jurisdictions taking federal money to buy new machinery would be required to hand count 2 percent of all ballots as part of an audit to ensure the vote count is accurate.


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