Monday, February 11, 2008

Report Recommendations on Voting Systems Accepted & Rejected

A risk of mishaps with Pa. voting?
Report: 'high risk' of malfunctions for Pa. voting machines
Jessica Bell
Pennsylvania is one of 17 states ranked as being at "high-risk" for voting-machine mishaps by the nonprofit organizations Common Cause and the Verified Voting Foundation.

However, state officials and students varied greatly over whether this recent report is cause for concern.

The report classified states' voting machine reliability based on two conditions: whether voting machines produce paper records and whether these records are randomly audited during the post-election period.

Pennsylvania voting machines are considered "high-risk" because they do not produce a separate paper record of the voter's ballot and, according to the report, recovery from voting machine malfunction or tampering would be nearly impossible.

However, some Pennsylvania elections officials said voting-machine malfunctions are unlikely.

"The voting system in the state has gone through rigorous testing," said Julio Pena, chief of the Pennsylvania Division of Help America Vote Act.

The Help America Vote Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2002 to require states to update their voting equipment in order to prevent mishaps similar to those that occurred in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.

Pena said he is "very confident" in Pennsylvania's current system, adding that the state does not use paper trails to protect voter privacy.

However, Michael Barley, spokesman for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, said he was concerned about voter fraud and machine failure in the upcoming presidential primary, which will be held April 22. He said he agreed with the report's recommendations.

"I don't understand why it would be a bad thing to have a paper record," he said. There would be "more evidence about where the problem occurred and what happened."

Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesman Abe Amoros, on the other hand, echoed Pena, saying that voters should not be concerned about the report.

"We are quite confident that the current systems in place are adequate and have performed well since they were instituted," Amoros wrote in an e-mail. ..

No comments: