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New York Times advocates (partial) election reform

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Saturday, the New York Times ran an article detailing a study by computer scientists from California universities which highlighted the susceptibility of electronic voting machines to hacking. Today, the Times editorializes in favor of a bill before congress that deals with this important part of our broken election system:

Before the House of Representatives takes its August recess, it owes it to the voters to pass a bill that would finally fix the problems with electronic voting. And there is a good bill ready, sponsored by Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, that would go a long way toward making elections more secure.

Electronic voting machines in their current form simply cannot be trusted. Just last week, a team of computer scientists from California released a study of three different voting systems that once again showed how easy it is to hack into electronic systems and alter the count.

The most important protection against electronic voting fraud is the voter-verified paper trail, a paper record that the voter can check to make sure that it properly reflects his or her choices. There should then be mandatory audits of a significant number of these paper records to ensure that the results tallied on the voting machines match the votes recorded on paper.

Mr. Holt’s bill would require that every voting machine produce a paper record of every vote cast in a federal election, and it would mandate random audits. It would also prohibit the use of wireless and Internet technology, which are especially vulnerable to hackers.

Michael Waldman, head of of NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, which has done some great work on the mechanical aspect of election reform, blogs about Rep. Holt’s bill here.

Several Democratic presidential candidates and their advisors spoke to the issue of how to best count every vote in our behind the scenes look at the Democrats’ CNN/YouTube presidential debate last week. But, as you hear me mention to candidate Dennis Kucinich in the video, there is much more work to be done than just counting every vote. Since 1945 only half of eligible Americans have made it to the polls, and we’re dedicated to exploring why that is and what our elected officials can do about it.

Next stop:
September 17, the CNN/YouTube Republican debate in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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