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26 Feb 2004 10:59
United States voters will go to the polls in November using electronic voting machines that cannot be verified, a computer scientist warned last week.
David Dill of Stanford University told an American Association for the
In a Florida state house-seat election last month, touch-screen machines recorded 127 blank ballots. The race was won by 12 votes.
No recount was possible because there was nothing to recount.
“The system is in crisis,” Professor Dill said.
Federal funds had been handed to states to update their voting equipment after the bitterly contested presidential election of 2000.
But there had been many problems with electronic machines. “If the machine silently loses or changes the vote, the voter has no clue what has happened,” said Dill.
After 20 years of research he had come to appreciate just how difficult it was to create a flawless computer system. He said democracy should be protected by an audit trail that could be checked when a result was disputed.Advancement of Science meeting in Seattle that 1 600 technologists and 53 elected officials had now joined his crusade for a “paper trail”, so that electronic voting machines could be checked.
“If you have computers recording votes or counting votes, then you have to do manual recounts with sufficient frequency [so] that machine errors are likely to be caught.”
The 2000 election in Florida ended in the courts and it took five weeks of legal argument before US President George W Bush was declared the winner. — Â
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