VA legislators call for paper receipts for election day

In light of bug that will trim candidates' names from summary ballots in some counties, Virginia leaders call for adding paper receipt printers to e-voting machines.

We noted Wednesday that a software bug on some of the voting machines in three Virginia cities will cause some candidates' names - including James Webb's, the Democratic contender for senator - to be truncated on electronic ballots. Webb's name will appear at "James H. 'Jim' " on the summary ballot in the Washingon suburbs of Alexandria and Falls Church and U.Va. hometown Charlottesville.

Now state representatives are calling for legislation to ensure the accuracy of electronic voting throughout Virginia, the Washington Post reports.

"Those events erode voter confidence," state Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, a Democrat, said. "Accuracy and confidence in that accuracy is of the utmost importance to both the voters and candidates." A paper record "gives voters an opportunity to double-check their votes and make sure they have been recorded as intended," Devolites Davis said.

Republican Del. Timothy Hugo emphasized the need for a paper trail.

"You get a [paper] receipt at the ATM and Safeway," said Hugo, who along with Devolites Davis led a two-year study of Virginia's voting system. "That way there's a backup if you need it."

For the most part Virginia municipalities are using "pure" e-voting, with no paper receipts. A few counties use optical scanning technology where voters fill out a paper ballot, which is tabulated by an optical device.

"About 95 percent of the computer scientists out there . . . believe that [electronic] voting machines are not trustworthy as they are built," said Jeremy Epstein, a computer security architect who was on the legislative subcommittee that studied Virginia's voting system. "It's important to recognize they aren't foolproof. Adding paper is a way to solve the problem."

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