Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tarrant County Democrats Go To Court

The Tarrant County Democratic Party has done what they promised to do. They have filed a suit in federal court against the Texas Secretary of State, asking that a verifiable paper trail be installed on the electronic voting machines before November 7th. The Tarrant Dems had asked for this several weeks ago, and threatened to go to federal court if it did not happen.

In their federal suit, the Democrats say that paperless electronic machines violate the Texas Election Code, the Help America Vote Act, and the U.S. Constitution [1st and 14th amendments]. Tarrant Democratic Party chairman, Art Brender, said he knows it is impossible to install the printers for a paper trail before the November 7th election. But if a court declares the machines to be in violation of the law, it might help the party get new elections if a programming error occurs. It would also set a precedent for future elections.

The company that makes the electronic voting machines does sell a printer that can easily be added to the machine, and produce a paper printout of each ballot. However, the Secretary of State has not approved the addition of the printer. They say they have not yet developed standards for the printer attachment, and also expressed concern that a paper trail might make it possible to track a person's vote. What a load of crap! What kind of standards are needed to attach a printer already designed to work with the machines in use? And the computer paper trail would be no more trackable than any other paper ballot.

The Tarrant County Elections Administrator holds an even sillier view. He says the machines store an image of every ballot cast, which could then be printed out and recounted as a paper ballot. The problem is that no one could know whether the ballot printed is as the voter voted, or whether it had been changed by a computer error or virus.

I applaud the Tarrant County Democratic Party for their bold move. They are just trying to make sure the votes counted are the same as the votes cast. Personally, I believe we need to go back to paper ballots and forget the hackable and error-prone machines [these same machines added an extra 100,000 votes during the last primary]. But until that can happen, we should at least have a paper printout that can be verified by the voter before leaving the polls.

If you cannot trust the counting of votes, do you really have a democracy?

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