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MIT Technology Review

Making Votes Count

The state of California is moving ahead with a ban on electronic voting machines that don’t provide a verifiable paper trail. Even though the disabled, the visually impaired, and many election officials love the machines’ easy interfaces, independent studies have…

The state of California is moving ahead with a ban on electronic voting machines that don’t provide a verifiable paper trail. Even though the disabled, the visually impaired, and many election officials love the machines’ easy interfaces, independent studies have shown that the systems are easy to tamper with once the votes are in.

Current polls showing Kerry and Bush nearly tied, meaning that November 2004 could look a lot like November 2000–only without any possibility for a recount. Unless California’s ban catches on, the numerous localities that use electronic voting machines made by Diebold Election Systems will have to accept the initially reported results as final. It doesn’t help matters any that Diebold Inc. CEO Walden O’Dell is a generous GOP contributor who said in a fund-raising letter that he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president” in 2004. Voter confidence was also shaken when activists publicized internal Diebold documents that showed machines used in Florida contributed to “minus votes” for Al Gore in 2000. The president of Diebold Election Systems, Bob Urosevich, recently admitted that machines used in California’s presidential primary were flawed.

With the election less than a year away, Americans need reassurance that they–not faulty machines–will be picking the president.