Electronic Voting and Voter Verified Paper Ballots
Even though some U.S. states have been using electronic voting equipment for quite some time with little controversy or accusations of fraud, in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election and the adoption of electronic voting by more and more voting districts, many more citizens have called for an auditable voter-verified ballot to be attached to all electronic voting machines to ensure the accuracy of the election results.

On the surface, electronic voting will not inherently lead to fraud or inaccurate results.  In fact, many other voting systems and ballot designs cannot be relied upon to accurately reflect the intention of the voter. Human voter error is the root cause of many wasted or contestable ballots. In fact, voters who incorrectly or incompletely punched out chads on their ballots caused much of the controversy during the 2000 election. Electronic Voting is one way to reduce human error and eliminate issues voters have faced in past elections.

Electronic voting equipment has three benefits over other forms of voting equipment:
  • Reduces residual votes
  • Accessible to disabled people- allows a disabled voter to cast a ballot in secret
  • Decreases the possibility of human counting error
While electronic voting machines eliminate many of the problems we've seen in past elections, it also creates a host of new issues.

Some worry that electronic voting machines, which are run by computer programs, can be intentionally programmed to change the intention of the voter. Votes are recorded and stored electronically and as a result, unlike punch cards or optical scan machines, there is also no way to perform an independent recount.
One way to overcome this potential weakness is to adopt an auditable voter verified paper ballot.

Voter Verified Paper Ballots:
Many activists in the electoral reform community want to ensure that there is a way to audit an election result and protect against the possibility of electronic voting machine tampering.  For this reason, many believe that there should be a requirement that electronic voting machines print a paper ballot that the voter can verify before officially casting a vote.  This paper ballot will not be a "receipt" for the voter, but instead will be kept by the Department of Elections in case a recount is necessary.


Let's Simplify Voting

By Andrew J. Humm
Published January 30th 2001
Re "Nation Awash in Ideas for Changing Voting" (news article, Jan. 28):

The electronic voting devices being proposed by self-interested computer companies are subject to large-scale tampering. We need a simple, standardized, low-tech system like marking an "X" on an easily readable piece of paper.

Canada votes that way and counts its ballots within a couple of hours.  There is no advantage to knowing the result the instant the polls close, but an imperative that a verifiable paper trail for a vote be established.  Machine voting does not produce a more accurate tally.

Since about half of eligible voters do not go to the polls, we also have to look at why our democracy is so anemic. Procedures like instant runoff voting and proportional representation would give many  more Americans reason to participate.

- Andrew J. Humm, New York