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Thursday, June 14, 2007

House bill would create an election paper trail

The U.S. House already has 216 co-sponsors on a measure to improve electoral accountability in an era of electronic voting machines.
This legislation would create a much-discussed and increasingly demanded paper trail for elections. The bill would also require a manual audit of every federal election, and it would require the disclosure of voting system source code in limited circumstances.
So why now? The advent of electronic voting - particularly on machines that leave no paper trail and have proprietary source code - means there's no longer a method to verify vote counts. Unlike paper voting (and those infamous hanging chads) or even optical scanning of paper ballot, all-electronic machines can simply lose votes or can be hacked with no evidence of the intrusion. And since the software is considered propriety, no one outside the voting machine company can take a peek inside to see how secure it is.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation - kind of an ACLU for the internet - has a more detailed summary of the legislation and how it could help:
  • The bill would not preclude states from enacting more stringent accountability measures (say, by banning all electronic voting machines or requiring electronic machine source code to be made public).
  • The bill would require a voter-verified paper ballot.
  • The bill would require manual, random audits of election systems in every state.
  • The bill would allow, in limited circumstances, access to voting machine source code.
After the idiocy of Florida in 2000 and the shenanigans in Ohio in 2004, this law is a Very Good Start.

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