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Voting Integrity in America

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Message Paul Jacobs

The Paper Case

Democracy in America faces a crisis of conscience. Do we trust elections to electrons or paper? Political debate is senseless if election integrity is meaningless.

Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines are anything but direct. A DRE voting machine is a touch screen computer that uses a removable memory cartridge to hold "ballot definitions" for multiple precincts and record votes cast. The machines come from private companies with proprietary restrictions on access to the voting computer's software programming.

Separate computers tally voting data using commercial software that is not invulnerable to hacking or malicious code that could easily be added, accessed or hidden on any one of hundreds of voting memory cartridges transferring the voting data. While actual election fraud has yet to be proven, irregularities have prompted a number of states and counties to return to paper ballot voting systems for cost savings, reliability and security.

Paper ballot voting systems are far more secure than DRE machines; even those that produce a paper printout backup. Paper ballots can always be verified and counted by humans and scanners, while the DRE printed thermal rolls are problematic to store, handle and count in large quantity.

Election integrity begins and ends with paper ballots that are physically cast and secured, but transparently counted – and recounted as needed. Voting on paper is the inexpensive, reliable way to run a democratic election anywhere on the planet.

Trust but Verify

Technology can be trusted to initially count our ballots, but the final say must remain verifiable by human audit. Technology can also assist disabled voters to cast a ballot independently by marking the same paper ballot used by able-bodied voters. Ballot-marking devices provide for votes to be cast privately and allow for all ballots to be counted equally and openly.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Direct Recording Electronic voting machines are the antichrist of election integrity. Action is required before November 2008, or it may be too late. Democracy in America is damned if DRE voting machines are not banned.

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Paul has worked in health care for the past 30 years and writes a weekly column for a local newspaper in California. He is involved in local civics, a member of Citizens for Democracy, Temecula Valley and active in the election integrity movement. (more...)
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