Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Voting - paper and electronic options

As a compromise when deciding to allow electronic voting in the upcoming presidential election, the California Secretary of State mandated that all counties that use electronic voting systems provide voters with the option of using a paper ballot instead of the electronic system. It turns out that poll workers in some districts are being told not to inform voters of this right (LA times article; may require registration), and thus the Electronic Frontier Foundation has set up a site (PaperOrPlastic2004.org) informing voters of their right to use paper ballots. According to the website, the option to use paper ballots applies in Alameda, Merced, Napa, Orange, Plumas, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Clara, Shasta, and Tehama counties. Consider yourself informed. (via BoingBoing)

For more discussion on the various voting options available (nationwide), and the state of our current voting system, see the excellent Scientific American article, "Fixing the Vote" by Ted Selker (printer-friendly version). This article was the first place I read about using an audio recording as an audit trail instead of a paper record, and the idea makes perfect sense.

[Note: The official California "Voter Information Guide" does include, on the very last page of the handout (pg. 165), a listing of which counties are using which voting type (optical scan, touchscreen/DRE, or datavote). At the bottom of this list is the statement "Counties using touchscreen/DRE systems are required to have paper ballots available upon request."]

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