Friday, January 23, 2004
Democracy at Risk

Its not often that I agree with Paul Krugman of the New York Times. In fact, I may have never agreed with him before, but today's the day. Krugman has written an Op-Ed piece that discusses electronic voting. He starts off painting a picture:

[I]magine this: in November the candidate trailing in the polls wins an upset victory — but all of the districts where he does much better than expected use touch-screen voting machines. Meanwhile, leaked internal e-mail from the companies that make these machines suggests widespread error, and possibly fraud. What would this do to the nation? Unfortunately, this story is completely plausible. (In fact, you can tell a similar story about some of the results in the 2002 midterm elections, especially in Georgia.) Fortune magazine rightly declared paperless voting the worst technology of 2003, but it's not just a bad technology — it's a threat to the republic.

If you spend a little time on the Internet studying the controversy surrounding electronic voting, you'll see what's got Krugman and a lot of people I respect more than Krugman worried. These machines aren't infallible and as currently designed, provide little assurance to people that their vote was properly recorded.

The answer is making sure that eVoting machines produce what is called a "voter verified paper trail." This allows for auditing of the election after the fact. I don't know how anyone could be opposed to such a common sense idea.

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