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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 2/12/13

Paper, Plastic, or Both: Must "Integrity" Mean "Consistent"?

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   No comments, In Series: Election Integrity

'AI 101 / Old Glory'
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cite title="AI 101 / Old Glory" class="wwscontentsmaller">"AI 101 / Old Glory" by Marta Steele

I am all for the decision to clean up a system that has wrought havoc on the voting rights of millions--millions of minorities who vote against Republicans and have last names even a few good Republicans don't know what to do with: the exotic first names that are trending among African Americans, the poetic surnames of Latinos and then, oddly enough, the John Jones-type names that belong to so many and as a result create confusion.

And then there is corruption, the dishonest mistakes.

All of these issues create havoc at the polls, including endless lines that serve to eliminate even more voters with perfectly comprehensible names (like Marta Steele? Not!!).

Just as mechanical, and then electronic solutions were invented to combat the epidemic of ballot box stuffing in the latte nineteenth century and onward, so now the inefficiency of our system of voter registration is blamed on the reams and reams of paper lists at the polls so rife with errors. Now, if this could all be computerized . . . Presto! Efficiency. Nor more long lines. Just point and click and move the line.

Alas (frequent cry of exasperation and grief in ancient Greek tragedy). Would that it were so simple. Plastic covering paper, that is.

Do we need to sit around and spend billions more before we realize that e-reg is as permeable to hacking as is e-voting?

Or is it possible that e-reg and a voting system converted from plastic to paper (hand-counted paper ballots [HCPB]) can coexist in harmonious efficiency? Must everything be consistent? All or nothing? Plastic or paper?

That's one for Socrates. The e-experts will undoubtedly squash me into the corner of two converging walls over it. They know so much more than I do about electronics (I'm thinking specifically of the latest findings of NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, supported this morning by a New York Times editorial). I'm not being facetious. Remember: the subject is e-reg. . . .

Because some EI advocates adamantly advocate for voting with HCPB, meticulously monitored at every stage by we-the-people, in droves, efficient droves so that no one's view is blocked. That's my position, until e-voting systems advance to a point where they are 100 percent uncorruptible. In my dreams and posterity's routines, it is hoped.

So, ideally, at this point in "our" thinking, e-reg is the ideal, along with HCPB used for early voting and absentee voting and voting at the polls, and we-the-people at every stage of those processes.

Consistency? Have studies shown that states that use all-of-one-kind of voting systems fare better than the patchworks that dominate our country's map? Ratings of the "consistent" states are inconsistent, as are those of the patchworks, according to a recent study by the Pew Center on the States (see my OEN article of 2/18/13).

So scratch consistency at this point in time. And scratch Internet voting (which I'd like to name I-voting, but IV may win out, if it doesn't confuse health-care providers too much). The thought of it. Experimental tries in California have bombed.

Like most of us, especially some EI people, I am looking forward to the president's SOTU this evening and hoping to hear more than passing mention of getting rid of long lines.

Then I'm wondering how in the world we'll replace our current voting practices with universal HCPB. They are used successfully, and sometimes even cleanly, in many other countries. That's the next hoop-on-fire. Success is to keep the paper intact.



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Marta Steele is an author/editor/blogger who has been writing for since 2006. She is also author of the 2012 book "Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols: The Election Integrity Movement's Nonstop Battle to Win Back the People's Vote, (more...)

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