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Scoop Link: Voting Machines Need Paper Trails

Voting Machines Need Paper Trails
By Dan Gillmor
Mercury News Technology Columnist
Posted on Sun, Jul. 20, 2003
For Full Story See…

Sometime in the next few weeks, California will decide whether voters will have any reason to trust the outcomes of elections in the 21st century.

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley will issue directions to local officials who are buying touch-screen voting machines and other devices known as ``Direct Recording Electronic'' (DRE) equipment. If he honors the position he holds, he'll order voting officials to take many more steps to ensure voter trust in these systems than they've been willing to take so far.

Specifically, he should tell them that they must, as part of the verification process, create what's called a ``paper trail'' -- a printout that the voter can look at to verify that the ballot was recorded according to his or her wishes, a document that could later be used for recounts and audits to ensure that the machines had worked as designed.

That anyone disputes this need is astonishing. Yet some people who normally take the side of underdogs, who are passionate about voting rights and the accuracy of elections, are making a common mistake.

They're putting unwarranted trust in technology. They're believing that private companies, for the first time in recorded history, can produce perfect, tamper-proof electronic devices.

This is an epic error, and computer security specialists have been raising bloody hell about it in recent months.

For Full Story See…

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