You’re one of the most famous politicians in the US, and you’ve got a new syndicated column in which you can pontificate on pretty much anything you want. What do you write about first? If you’re Howard Dean, you focus on the perils of touch-screen computer voting machines. Dean, once the leading contender for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, points to the less-than-encouraging track record of the new electronic voting machines. He cites a 2002 election in Wake County, NC, where, he says, “436 votes were lost as a result of bad software” as well as a recent election in Fairfax County, VA, where local election officials complained that one in 100 votes was lost due to computer glitches. Dean notes that this November, as many as 50 million Americans will “cast ballots using machines that could produce such unreliable and unverifiable results,” stating:
Without any accountability or transparency, even if these machines work, we cannot check whether they are in fact working reliably. The American public should not tolerate the use of paperless e-voting machines until at least the 2006 election, allowing time to prevent ongoing errors and failures with the technology. One way or another, every voter should be able to check that an accurate paper record has been made of their vote before it is recorded.
Others have made this case before, of course, including Stanford University computer scientist David Dill in this TR interview. Although the famously combative Dean doesn’t mention it in his column, many Democrats have expressed outrage that the CEO of Diebold, the leading maker of touchscreen voting machines, has declared himself to be committed to doing what can to ensure a Bush victory this fall.