E-Voting: Will Your Vote Count?
The 2000 presidential election underscored the dire need for voting transformation. But six years later, a litany of problems remains. Can the government restore confidence in e-voting?Hardly a day goes by without electronic voting making headlines. In mid-July, voter-rights group Voter GA filed a lawsuit against the Georgia State Election Board opposing the use of electronic systems, calling them too insecure. In Texas, a state district judge refused to block the use of e-voting machines in Travis Countys upcoming November elections. And New York made headlines this spring when the U.S. Justice Department sued the state for failing to meet federal e-voting adoption deadlines. Six years after the 2000 presidential election fiasco in Florida, the debate continues to rage over just how to run a truly fair and accurate election. This despite the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, a federal law that allocated $3.8 billion in hopes of solving the problem. The law mandates that each state upgrade to electronic voting systems and create statewide databases of registered voters. This, Congress promised, would ensure fairness to all voters, less ambiguity at the polls, accessible systems for people with disabilities and citizens for whom English is a second language, and quicker and more accurate vote tallying.
Laudable goals. But in Congress rush to spare the U.S. further embarrassment from hanging chads and confusing butterfly ballots, lawmakers passed HAVAwhich included a deadline of January 2006without considering the security of such systems, and offered little guidance as to how a digital elections process should be effectively conducted. The result: computer malfunctions that miscount votes or erase them altogether, inefficient security measures that leave systems open to the possibility of widespread voter fraud, and statewide registered-voter databases that are still riddled with errors.