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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

Bill Tracker: Electronic Ballots with Paper Trails

(Part 2 of 5 in a symposium on election law)

We love technology. We love efficiency. We love new gadgets. But when it comes to the machinery of elections, we just don't trust each other. Not counting hanging chads is one thing, but paperless electronic voting is something we just don't quite accept. And we are not alone.

Florida's governor, Charlie Crist, announced plans to scrap the entire state's paperless touchscreen system in favor of one that produces a paper trail. The key to Governor Crist's position is his simple statement, "You should, when you go vote, be able to have a record of it."

Four bills, HB 65, HB 123, HB 384, and HB 527 seek to alter our electronic voting procedures and are in line with Governor Crist's position. All four bills call for a paper audit trail to be produced from electronic voting machines.

One major difference in the bills is that HB 65, sponsored by Rep. Leibowitz, grandfathers in older electronic voting machines only if: 1) the voter has the option of casting a paper ballot instead of using the machine; 2) a permanent record of each ballot is created at the time the ballot is cast or during the local canvas of the votes; 3) the system is subject to parallel monitoring; and 4) at least 46 days before the date the system is to be used for voting, the authority responsible for holding the election submits a technical security plan for the system to the secretary of state.

All of the bills have been assigned to the Elections Committee.

On a personal note, I voted using an electronic voting machine in 2006. Currently, our local electronic voting machines do not create a paper trail. The actual machine was no larger than a laptop computer. I now understand why these machines make so many people nervous regarding manipulation.

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