Counting the Vote,
The New York Times | Editorial
Thursday 16 November 2006
Last week's elections provided a lot of disturbing news about the reliability of electronic voting - starting, naturally, with Florida. In a Congressional race there between Vern Buchanan, a Republican, and Christine Jennings, a Democrat, the machines in Sarasota County reported that more than 18,000 people, or one in eight, did not choose either candidate. That "undervote" of nearly 13 percent is hard to believe, given that only about 2.5 percent of absentee voters did not vote in that race. If there was a glitch, it may have made all the difference. Ms. Jennings trails Mr. Buchanan by about 400 votes.
The serious questions about the Buchanan- Jennings race only add to the high level of mistrust that many people already feel about electronic voting. More than half of the states, including California, New York, Ohio and Illinois, now require that electronic voting machines produce voter-verified paper records, which help ensure that votes are properly recorded. But Congress has resisted all appeals to pass a law that would ensure that electronic voting is honest and accurate across the nation.
Fortunately, that may be about to change. With the Democrats now in control of both houses, there is an excellent chance of passing tough electronic voting legislation. Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, had more than 200 co-sponsors for a strong electronic voting bill before this month's election, and support is likely to grow in the new Congress. In the Senate, Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who will be chairwoman of the Rules and Administration Committee, which oversees elections, plans to develop a similar bill.