IL counties have faith in voting machines

Some counties go so far as to scrap optical scan ballots but most realize that the perception is that e-voting is insecure.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor

In Illinois, county election officials are furiously spinning about election machines. In DuPage County, the Election Commission invited the media to tour a warehouse to see the steps they've taken to protect their Diebold-built machines from would-be hackers. And, the Daily Herald reports, in Kane County, the county clerk has abandoned optical scan ballots entirely, relying solely on electronic touch-screen machines.

"We were concerned about security," said Cunningham, adding county officials did more than two years of study. "That's why we picked the most secure, tamper-proof piece of equipment that was on the market."

That's a radical move when most experts say paper, not digital, is the safer option.

"If voters have a choice, they should use paper ballots," said Rebecca Mercuri, a computer scientist and founder of Notable Software in New Jersey. "I call that voting with your vote."

In politics, perception is everything and that's especially true in elections.

"Perception in the voting process is just as important as reality," said Lake County Clerk Willard R. Helander. "If you can't make that voter feel secure, then we've got a problem."

Helander says she simply "wouldn't sleep well at night" if she scrapped Lake's entirely optical-scan system. To meet federal requirements, the county bought devices that mark paper ballots for people with disabilities.

"I want to know that if an election is won by less than 1 percent of the vote that we don't have to trust that a memory card recorded accurately," Helander said. "If you need to audit the election, you can see the ballot the voter marked."

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