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Minnesota launches first post-election review

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Kathlyn Stone
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The accuracy of Minnesota's e-voting machines will be assessed this fall thanks to a new state law that takes effect with this year's elections. Races for federal office and the governor's race will be reviewed to assess the accuracy of e-voting machines.

Numerous problems have been documented nationally with e-voting machines, particularly direct recording electronic (DRE) systems. While Minnesota does not use DREs, the optical scanners that Minnesota uses are subject to many of the same risks for potential programming errors as DREs.

"The post-election review offers the best way to assess the accuracy of our voting machines and help ensure an accurate vote count," according to Mark Halvorson, director and co-founder of Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota (www.ceimn.org). "The optical scan voting machines used in Minnesota are considered reliable but have never been reviewed to assess their accuracy. The state legislature passed a law to assess the accuracy of the machines."

The new review law requires a hand count of randomly selected precincts in every county. If the hand count from the review shows a difference greater than 0.5 percent compared to the machine count from election day, further hand counts are required.

Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, along with the League of Women Voters Minnesota, is organizing and training nonpartisan teams of volunteers in every county to observe the review. Minnesota is one of only 13 states to require a review and the only state where a review will be observed.

Other Minnesota election notables:

" Minnesota enacted same-day voter registration in 1974 which opens voting to more residents who may have moved or are voting for the first time.
" Minnesota had the highest citizen voting rate at 79 percent during the 2004 presidential election. (U.S. Census Bureau)
" Minneapolis voters will decide in November whether to adopt Instant Run-Off Voting (IRV). If adopted, Minneapolis will join San Francisco and Vermont in advancing this step toward election reform.
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Kathlyn Stone is a Minnesota-based writer covering science and medicine, health care and related policies.ï She publishes www.fleshandstone.net, a health and science news site.
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