Debate: Electronic Voting Essay

This essay has a total of 2005 words and 8 pages.

Debate: Electronic Voting

There are many controversial topics in this politically correct world. There are topics
about morals, standards, and personal ethics. One of the newest debatable subjects
however, is the one concerning this new centuries way of casting an individual's vote,
through electronic voting. Electronic voting is a way to cast a person's ballot using an
electronic voting machine that is touch screen. There are many advantages to using these
machines during an election but there are also many disadvantages to using them as well.
Before a person can make their own judgments on this subject it is important to understand
and view both sides of the argument.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been put forth to upgrade voting systems all around
the country, and most of the money going to going to paperless e-voting systems. A study
by Election Data Services indicates that 50 million voters, or about 28 percent of the
voting population, used such electronic voting systems in 2004. This is about twice as
many more than voted electronically in the previous election (Boyle). These numbers are
important to understand the experience that this new way of voting has been used. Not even
half of the voters have used the machine so before our country changes the system of
voting they need to know how this small percentages voting is affected and how accurate
and safe it truly is.

Many people, who support the newest electronic voting machines, are people who remember
the year 2000 elections. In those elections there were many problems, tons of the paper
ballots had not been punched through properly, and so could not be counted. The lack of a
clear cut winner made it even more controversial throughout the country. According to the
Voter Technology Project six million votes could not be counted because of the errors.
Many elderly people reported having had trouble putting the holes in the proper space
while voting. Another problem found while voting in that particular election was the
voting places made it difficult to cast a persons vote. There were also numerous rumors
going around that poll workers were involved in fraudulent activities to support the
candidate of their choice. All of these reports and rumors brought on the idea to start
voting electronically and eliminate paper technicalities.

Supporters understand that electronic voting is not flawless but it is still more
perfected than the old way of voting on paper. One person believes that electronic voting
is the safest way to vote today. No ballots can be misplaced and there is no need for poll
workers to help a voter out by looking over the voters shoulder, then making changes where
necessary (Voting Technology Project). People are looking to protect their privacy and
make sure that there vote is one of the votes that really count. The problem is that it is
not safe to have a paper or receipt type thing printed out for a voter, this type of thing
could lead to a wide spread buying of votes by the separate sides. Buying votes is
obviously something neither side wants to see happen.

Many groups opposed to electronic voting want a paper print out like a receipt that could
be used for recounts. The request does not seem absurd but returning to this paper system
introduces some new complications, among them: What happens on Election Day if the
printers fail, as printers often do? How do poll workers and voters prevent tampering with
the paper ballots? These questions do not have strong enough answers to make companies add
printers to the machines. The main reason there is a demand for the electronic voting
system is because of the rumors of fraud with the older paper ballots.

The government has passed the Help America Vote Act, after the 2000 elections voting
problem occurred. The act set aside the money to help fund the purchasing of new and
improved voting equipment (Voting Technology Project). Some of the major improvements with
touch screens or simple dials and buttons also known as the electronic voting system, is
that they allowed people with disabilities to vote in private, without an election worker
doing it for them, as the paper ballot way had required. In addition, electronic voting
machines also made it easy to produce ballots in multiple languages in areas with large
immigrant populations. Orange County, in California programmed their electronic voting
machines with five different languages. With so many improvements many were able to vote
for the first time (Ladendorf). One of the most important benefits of electronic voting is
that votes would be counted much faster, and it would eliminate room for the human error
factor, which on paper ballots is inevitable (Ladendorf).

The strongest support and example of the electronic voting comes from the recent
elections. This year, 2004, had some of the highest voter turn out in a long time.
Although so many people voted and many on electronic voting or touch screen machines,
there was one clear cut winner and there was no problem in the voting. Both sides agreed
that President Bush had won a fair and competent election. Electronic voting may not be
perfect yet but it worked well enough, and did not have hacking or bug problems as
skeptics had predicted it would (Ladendorf). In fact the 2004 elections were some of the
smoothest and most clear cut elections that the United States has had in recent history,
to many that should be proof enough.

Electronic voting is one of the most current controversial subjects to date, so as such
there are two sides both with their own excellent points. Both the supporting and opposing
sides should be examined before a person can say which one they believe in. There are many
groups endorsing these causes they each propose that there is way is the right or best
way. The opposing side has come up with a very strong campaign.

What the opposing side is concerned about is that the electronic voting machines do not
have the adequate security procedures or auditing procedures in place at this time, and it
is something that needs to be improved. With the machines, especially the ones that do not
even produce a paper ballot; there is really no way to make sure that the voting machine
recorded the vote accurately and that it will be counted. Added to that there is also wide
spread knowledge of the machines having security flaws that are significant and would most
likely lead to tampering of the votes that had been cast in the machines. Another problem
is the involvement of programmers involved in the company who was in charge of Georgia's
electronic voting has criminal backgrounds tied to their name (Boyle). So when you put all
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