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Elections & Voting Last Updated: Feb 22nd, 2007 - 01:02:31

Turning the vote theft issue on its head
By Bev Conover
Online Journal Editor & Publisher

Feb 22, 2007, 00:59

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The issue isn�t voter fraud; it�s politicians and election officials who opt for the convenience of computerized vote counting -- whether it�s optical scanners or touch screens containing memory cards.

The name of the game is blame the voters. Make them jump through hoops to cast their votes. Make ballots as confusing as possible. Pass laws that severely restrict or totally ban hand recounts of optically scanned ballots. Add to the mix an insufficient number of machines that cause unconscionably long waits in districts where you want to suppress voter turnout, in case intimidation and dirty tricks aren�t enough to keep the number down.

Yes, optically scanned ballots create a paper trail. But what good are they if the machine count is manipulated enough not to trigger the percentage the law requires for a hand recount or if the law prohibits hand recounting?

Touch screens or direct electronic recording (DRE) machines leave no paper trail. Even if the courts reversed themselves to allow election officials, independent computer experts and the public to look at the proprietary computer code, votes can be flipped with no electronic trace.

Yet, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) would have people believe that his bill, HR 811, to require voter verified printouts would solve the problem. As Bev Harris, founder of Black Box Voting, has pointed out, among other flaws in Holt�s bill, that it would cost $7,000 per machine for 185,000 polling places for the text conversion technology to produce printouts.

Apparently Holt, like most politicians, favors expensive, complicated and impractical devices that accomplish nothing, while conning people into believing the contrary, over inexpensive simple solutions. Can you say Rube Goldberg contraptions?

The simple solution is hand-counted paper ballots. Paper and pencils are way less expensive, require no company technicians to set them up and maintain them, and have no need of costly storage facilities. Moreover, local printers would benefit from printing ballots.

Limit each voting district to 500 voters to reduce waiting time for both voters and the time it takes to count the votes. Open the doors so the public, in an orderly fashion, can witness the counting.

Provide each registered voter with a registration card, which is all that is required to cast a ballot, rather than the ridiculous number of documents some states are now mandating as proof of identity -- something which The New York Times reported is keeping people away from the polls.

Since voting on Sundays, as many countries do, or even on Saturdays would get some religious folks� knickers in a twist, make the Tuesday primary and general election days holidays for national and state elections.

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