Presidential election Sample

The Presidential election of 2000 introduced Americans to a problem with electronic voting. A new term, “hanging chad,” entered the genre of American society and the history of the United States was changed; not only because of the decision of who was to become President, but because it showed the problems electronic voting can produce. Electronic voting first entered the market in 1960 with the punch card system. This system was supplanted by electronic voting systems which gave the capability of votes being electronically tabulated.

The next generation of electronic voting machines was achieved through the use of Electronic Ballet Marker (EBM) systems. Today, direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machine records votes from ballots which are displayed on touch screens. The touching action of the voter is read by computer software which records the voting and the ballot images. This data is stored in the software memory components. The advantages of such systems are readily evident.

Votes can be tabulated quickly, the systems are easy to use with a minimum of instruction, they are purported to be fraud free, and they are cost effective in the long-run. Conversely, there are disadvantages to the use of DRE’s. Computers are known to produce errors and may contain “bugs. ” This makes the system vulnerable. “The vulnerability means the election results can be manipulated. It also creates the danger that legitimate election results will not be accepted because allegations of manipulation cannot be refuted conclusively.

” (Jarrett 11-12) Yet another difficulty is the lack of a paper trail in the event of challenges. “Twenty-three states still do not require a paper record of all votes, despite the demonstrated technical failures of e-voting machines in the 2004 presidential election — including the complete loss of thousands of votes. ” (Anonymous, 2008) Establishing a paper trail however, brings its own set of problems. According to Blanc in the Election Standards Project, “VVPB {voter verified paper ballots} need to meet several criteria.

They must not compromise secrecy of the vote so they should not be recorded on a paper tape. The printouts must be legible, and procedures should encourage votes to confirm their contents. ” Lastly, Blanc suggests that if differences occur between the digital and paper ballot, the paper ballots must prevail. Finally, a system to handle randomized hand-counts audits must be in place after all elections. There could be an added burden to the system of VVPB making the process prohibitively expensive for relatively simple elections.

In 2002, Sacramento California investigative reporter Bev Harris (2004) uncovered a public Internet site that posted the source code of major electronic voting machine manufacturer Diebold, Inc. , and found that the company had failed to meet voting security standards. (Democracy Now) In answer to this and similar reports, the United States government took action to encourage the competent, safe use of this technology. The problems of election year 2000 prompted the establishment of a commission to administer a new law, The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA).

This federal initiative is a broad effort to upgrade voting systems across the country, including electronic voting systems. The reliability of hardware and software remains a primary concern the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California reported, “…mechanical failures in touch-screen machines arising from electrical outages and other causes may leave votes uncounted or miscounted, with no means of recovery. On the software side computer scientists and others warn that software deficiencies in some electronic voting systems may affect election outcomes.

” Many welcome electronic voting on the ground that its advantages outweigh security and reliability concerns while there are those who put a premium on security and reliability. “Unless electronic voting is backed up with a verifiable record of some kind, the risks are too great–the potential for mishap and mischief looms too large. ” (Institute of Governmental Studies, 2005)

Works Cited

Blanc, Jarrett. “Challenging the norms and standards of election administration: Electronic Voting. ” Election Standards Project. 11-19. Harris, Bev. “Democracy Now. ” A debate on electronic voting: A tool to improve elections or rig elections? 27 Feb. 2004. Electronic Voting- Overview and Issues. Institute of Governmental Studies. Nov. 2005. University of California. 23 Oct. 2008 <http://igs. berkeley. edu/library/htelectronicvoting2004. html>. Unknown. “E-voting rights. ” Electronic Frontier Foundation. 23 Oct. 2008 <http://www. eff. org/issues/e-voting>.