A looming election nightmare?

After the recount debacle of 2000, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). As a result, most states went out and replaced their punch card ballots with electronic voting machines.

After the recount debacle of 2000, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). As a result, most states went out and replaced their punch card ballots with electronic voting machines. Unfortunately, evidence is mounting that this will have the opposite effect than the one Congress intended.

According to a story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a recent recount of the printouts from touch-screen voting machines found that more than 20% were unreadable.

Election workers inspected 70 paper printouts, which represented nearly 4,400 ballots cast Nov. 6 in North Royalton and Bedford Heights. Election workers found 15 of the 70 printouts damaged and those had to be reprinted.

"This is very much a cause for concern," board member Inajo Davis Chappell said. "All the technology issues pose a challenge to us, especially given the volume of voters we expect in the primary."

The machines were made by Diebold Inc. who renamed its elections division Premier Election Solutions. Diebold has been at the center of the storm surrounding eVoting for years.

Electronic voting is a technology that was rolled out way before it's time and we're seeing the problems now. The Cleveland issue is a simple printer problem. Most states aren't equipped to find the real problem: targeted attacks. Most elections officials just turn a blind eye to very real security problems believing that it would never happen to them.

The sad part is we'll probably never know if it does because it's too expensive to perform post election audits at a level that will reveal targeted fraud. The 2008 election will be exciting for a lot of reasons--good and bad. I hope it isn't exciting because of problems with voting machines.

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