Voting Woes

December 3, 2006

Letter to the Editor, Mark Halvorson, Director, Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and the Star Tribune's Nov. 26 editorial both weighed in on critical issues posed by paperless electronic voting machines.

Krugman focused on Sarasota County, Florida, where 18,000 votes went unrecorded in the 13th Congressional District race.

In 2004, complaints about voting machines changing or losing votes were reported by voters across the country.

Unfortunately, nothing was done to fix these problems, and widespread complaints were reported again this year. For example, a national voter hot line received more than 40,000 calls with registration and machine problems reported among the top concerns.

In Minnesota we are fortunate to have a paper-based voting system where the ballots are counted by optical scanner machines. This system allows for audits and recounts. Thanks to a new state law, roughly 5 percent of the voting machines in every county were audited this year. Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, along with the League of Women Voters Minnesota, recruited volunteers who observed this review process in 70 of the 87 counties. Based on the observers' firsthand accounts the voting machines audited were very accurate -- something Minnesotans can be proud of.

It's a travesty that only 13 states require postelection audits. An easy first step in fixing our nation's broken voting system is to pass HR 550, which calls for random audits and a paper trail to be implemented nationwide. The country desperately needs such a measure to restore public confidence in election outcomes.