Verify the Vote

By Scott Tibbs, August 6, 2007

I sent the following e-mail to the three members of the Monroe County Election Board.

Mr. Loftman, Mr. Schmit and Mr. Fielder;

Two recent articles regarding MicroVote (July 28 and August 5) have pushed me to the position that direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines should be replaced by machines that keep a paper trail. Ideally, that should happen in time for the city elections in three months.

There have been concerns that having votes stored electronically brings with it the potential for tampering that is not there with a hard copy. While I am confident that Monroe County takes every precaution to ensure security of these machines, should this concern even be present? Even with no malicious intent, computers can fail and data can be corrupted.

I disagree with those who advocate that voters get a receipt to take home with them. When election materials leave the confines of a polling place and bipartisan control, there is a potential for fraud. Counterfeit or duplicated receipts could appear, and a paper receipt jeopardizes the important principle of anonymous voting. I urge you to reject calls for a voter-verified paper receipt.

Last year, a large number of voters cast paper ballots because of concerns about the MicroVote machines. This fall, I plan to join them and cast a paper ballot. While I have done this in the past as a convenience, this year I will do it as a vote of no-confidence in DRE voting. If nothing else, the number of people who did that last year and will likely do so again in the next two elections should give you pause about DRE machines.

The switch from DRE machines to a paper trail should not be tied to federal funds or federal mandates. If necessary, county government should reallocate funds to make this change. After all, the ensuring integrity of county elections is one of the essential functions of county government. In my opinion, there are a few things that rival it in importance, none that supersede it and many things that are less important. I hope this change takes place in plenty of time for the 2008 county, state and national elections.

Scott Tibbs