21
Okt
2004

The great American e-voting experiment

Democratic elections are supposed to be decided by the will of the people. That principle was called into question by the 2000 election for the president of the United States of America, which was famously determined by just 537 votes in Florida and one Supreme Court decision. In November, it may be under scrutiny again, as another close presidential election could be decided by the accuracy of a raft of new voting technologies. Across the US on 2 November, while some voters register their intent using traditional paper ballots, punched cards and lever machines, others will be using less tried-and-tested systems such as optical scanners and electronic touch-screen voting machines. These new systems are supposed to count votes more accurately. But concerns are being voiced that electronic technologies can just as easily mean that more votes will go missing or be miscounted. They might even be used to commit election fraud. And unlike conventional voting systems, many electronic systems leave no paper trail to allow results to be double-checked. The unprecedented use of these novel technologies will make the coming election a huge experiment in electronic voting. “If the presidential election is decided by electronic voting in some swing state, one could imagine a bitter fight with no way to resolve it,” says David Dill, a computer scientist at Stanford University in California.

“We could be entering uncharted waters with this election. People will not take a funny electronic result lying down: there will be challenges.”

http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996523


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