E-Voting and the Integrity of Elections

Episode 021 – Conversation with Josh Benfey, Class of 2009.mp3

In this pod cast, we hear from Josh Benfey, Class of 2009 and a member of the BLS chapter of the American Constitution Society, one of over 160 law school chapters of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. The ACS was founded in 2001 and is one of the nation’s leading progressive legal organizations. Its projects address a range of issues such as: Access to Justice; Constitutional Interpretation and Change; Criminal Justice; Democracy and Voting; Economic, Workplace and Environmental Regulation; Equality and Liberty; Religion Clauses; Separation of Powers and Federalism; and International Law and the Constitution Working Group. This week, the BLS chapter of ACS hosted a screening of “Hacking Democracy”, a non-partisan, critically-acclaimed, Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary from HBO. The film addresses electronic voting machines which, since the 2000 presidential election, count nearly 90% of US votes.

See the trailer for the film.

Designed to eliminate voting problems that occurred in the 2000 election, especially in Florida, touch screen voting machines have had a history of security flaws in states such as Florida, New Jersey and Ohio. Law suits and congressional reports have questioned the reliability of e-voting. A recent NY Times article reports on a New Jersey lawsuit challenging the results from voting machines used in the February 8, 2008 primary election. Another recent news report tells of calls to shift away from paperless systems citing the 18,000 uncounted votes in the 2006 elections in Florida’s 13th district that critics attributed to error or tampering with the electronic voting machines. A House Judiciary Committee Report requested by Rep. John Conyers entitled “Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio” raised questions about electronic voting in the 2004 presidential election. The GAO issued a Report of E-Voting Challenges in April 2007 citing concerns that included “vague or incomplete voting system standards, system design flaws, poorly developed security controls, incorrect system configurations, inadequate testing, and poor overall security management.” Despite these concerns and legislative efforts by Sen. Bill Nelson (FL) and Rep. Rush Holt (NJ) bill to pass the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007 to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2000 to require voter-verified permanent paper balloting, the 2008 elections will likely use electronic voting.