The Road to Reliable
The New York Times | Editorial
Monday 11 December 2006
Two influential federal advisory groups have added their voices to an emerging national consensus that voting machines must produce a voter-verified paper record if they are to be trusted. One of those groups, the one dominated not by scientists but by election officials, was more grudging than it should have been. But their analyses should give further support to members of Congress who plan to push next month for a strong federal law requiring voter-verified paper records.
More than half of the states now have laws requiring electronic voting machines to produce paper records that voters can review to ensure that their votes were correctly recorded. Voters understand that without this paper, there is no way of knowing if the software registered their choices incorrectly, either by accident or by design.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency that promotes good standards in everything from medical devices to smoke detectors, recently concluded that paperless electronic voting is unacceptable. The agency's scientists said that for electronic voting to be trustworthy, it must be "software independent," meaning there has to be a means apart from the machines' own software to prove that the vote tallies are correct.