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Business, Free Enterprise and Constitutional Issues; Pro-Life and Pro Second Amendment. Susan Lynn is a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. She serves as Chairman of the Consumer and Human Resources subcommittee, a member of the Finance Ways and Means Committee and the Ethics Committee. She holds a BS in economics and a minor in history.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Secure Elections? We can do better

By: State Representative Susan Lynn
Tennessee General Assembly
349 words

Voters may like the new touch screen voting technology used for elections but in retrospect many agree that it doesn’t increase voter confidence for secure elections at all.

High on the list of noted problems is that some of the new machines are run completely by computer software programs. No paper ballot is produced to back up information or to perform random audits of machine totals for accuracy.

Because the machines employ computer software to conduct an election, few have the skill or ability to verify the software source code for voting integrity. In addition, almost no one has the opportunity to verify the source code. Further, no law requires the source code to be stored for verification at a later date.

Recently, Princeton University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science demonstrated how easily a virus, created to steal an election, can be uploaded into electronic voting machines and then erase all indication of itself after voting is complete; thus, eliminating all evidence of foul play. The report and video demonstration can be viewed at http://itpolicy.princeton.edu/voting/.

Something as simple and inexpensive as a verifiable paper trail would help to alleviate many concerns for voters. As each voter casts his or her vote, they verify their choices on an anonymous paper record. Once voting is complete, random audits comparing the paper record to the electronic totals help to confirm the accuracy of the election.

Because of these concerns, some states like Connecticut, Maryland, and New Mexico are reconsidering their use of electronic voting equipment that does not employ a paper trail for the upcoming November elections.

Unfortunately, for the past three years, numerous opportunities to pass state legislation requiring the use of paper trails for electronic voting equipment, and for the archiving of computer source code with the Secretary of State’s office have been passed up in Tennessee, (HB 312 and HB 313).

Tennessee should follow the lead of the other states. Before touch screen voting equipment is used for our elections we should ensure voter confidence and ballot integrity by employing systems to back up information and make audits possible.

Susan Lynn
State Representative 57th District
215 War Memorial Building Nashville, Tennessee 37243

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