Washington: Eight years after glitches marred the 2000 presidential elections, Americans are still struggling over voting machine technology amid growing concerns about the reliability of electronic systems.
Many jurisdictions are reconsidering new technology and moving away from paperless and touch-screen voting machines -- systems which had been seen as a cure for the problems of punch cards that notably failed to correctly tally votes in 2000 in Florida.
A growing movement of activists, including many computer scientists, are leading calls to shift away from paperless systems, saying they are vulnerable to software and hardware glitches or manipulation by hackers or others.
About 80% Americans use systems where votes are cast or tabulated by computer including 38% who used so-called direct recording electronic voting machines (DRE), according to a study by John McCormally of the University of Iowa.
Richard Soudriette, president emeritus of the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), says touch-screen electronic machines have been “unfairly maligned.”
Soudriette said these systems are gaining acceptance in other countries, notably Brazil and India. But in the US, a hodgepodge of state, federal and local regulations make it difficult to set standards, he said.
Many of the DREs have no “paper trail,” which according to critics makes a recount or audit impossible. Alan Dechert, a computer scientist who heads the activist Open Voting Consortium, said paperless touch-screen voting systems have failed in many cases, causing these systems to be tossed out of many states and localities.