Politicos: MD will switch to paper audit systems in '08

Widespread dissatisfaction with all-digital voting systems make change in 2008 a certainty, even though November election ran relatively smoothly.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor on

Maryland - one of the states that relied on 100% electronic voting machines - will likely move to a verifiable paper record for the 2008 presidential election, politicians predicted yesterday, according to the Baltimore Sun.

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, who was viewed as a main obstacle to passing of a paper-trail bill this year, called for a verifiable paper record.

"We have two years until the next election," Miller said. "So what I hope to do, in conjunction with the [House] speaker, is put together a group to make recommendations to the General Assembly to come up with some verifiable trail that will serve us."

Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley said a transition team work group will explore election issues, including the state's voting machines.

Gilles W. Burger, chairman of the State Board of Elections, said that though Maryland's voting equipment can and should be improved - by adding a paper trail, for instance - he doesn't "want to jettison the system" at this point, given the cost and stress of starting from scratch. "We want to do the most common-sense changes, improvements that make our system more reliable," he said.

Even though the NIST rejected a proposal to discourage e-voting, Johns Hopkins University computer scientist Aviel Rubin said he was "thrilled" with the recommendations. "You need the ability to count ballots in a way that's independent of software," he said. "Software is always vulnerable to bugs and to undetectable rigging."

Still, he said the fact that a group with such credibility issued such a sweeping statement should have a positive impact on local jurisdictions exploring moving to optical-scan machines. "I think this will carry a lot of weight with a lot of people," said Rubin. "The pressure in a lot of jurisdictions will be to adopt paper because of this report."

Editorial standards