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December 6, 2006

Federal Panel to Develop Verification Standards in e-Voting

The Technical Guidelines Development Committee has voted to develop a standard for the next generation of voting machines to have an independent means of verifying election results.  Any standard that is created by the NIST panel would have to be approved by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.  Predictions are the standard would not be implemented until 2009 at the earliest.

Electronic voting makes some people uneasy due to irregularities in equipment operation.  Many machines are made by Diebold who also makes ATMs.  Anyone who has experienced and ATM swallowing their debit card has little difficulty transferring the experience to voting, whether or not this feeling is legitimate.  As early as last October Diebold quietly fixed touch screen freezes in machines in use in Maryland.  The freeze did not cause votes to be lost but could confuse voters and raise questions about the reliability of the machines.  Disenfranchisement is the last impression anyone needs in close votes given the polarization of the electorate.  Most courts tend to take that issue seriously.

States are looking at the issue as well for practical reasons.  The biggest controversy out of last November's vote was the House contest in the 13th District of Florida.  The Republican candidate Vern Buchanan was certified the winner over Democrat Christine Jennings with just a margin of 369 votes.  The number of people who voted in Sarasota County for other offices but not the House contest was 18,000, a staggering number that was six times higher than other counties in the district.  That prompted suits against state officials and the manufacturer of the touch screen voting equipment. 

The Washington Post has the story on the development of verification standards.

December 6, 2006 | Permalink


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