Saturday, December 02, 2006

Federal Report Condemns Paperless Electronic Voting Machines

Paperless electronic voting machines used in much of the country "cannot be made secure," according to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

The assessment by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the government's premier research centers, is the most sweeping condemnation of such voting systems by a federal agency.

In a report hailed by critics of electronic voting, NIST said that voting systems should allow election officials to recount ballots independently from a voting machine's software. The recommendations endorse "optical-scan" systems in which voters mark paper ballots that are read by a computer and electronic systems that print a paper summary of each ballot, which voters review and elections officials save for recounts.

As JABBS noted earlier this week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who is expected to become chairwoman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, plans to re-inroduce legislation requiring all voting systems to have verifiable paper trails.

With Democrats now in control of the Senate, there's a good chance the legislation should pass.

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NIST's recommendations are to be debated next week before the Technical Guidelines Development Committee, charged by Congress to develop standards for voting systems. To become effective, NIST's recommendations must then be adopted by the Election Assistance Commission, which was created by Congress to promote changes in election systems after the 2000 debacle in Florida.

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