Paperless Touchscreens Lose Support

Tuesday June 22, 2004

Women Voters Reverse at Convention 

The League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) organization recently rescinded its support for touchscreen voting machines that don’t create paper trails, but not without an uncharacteristic internal fight led by several member from the Bay Area. 

Last week’s LWVUS national convention held in Washington D.C. produced a heated debate between national league leaders who support touch screen machines, and groups of members who say that such machines are vulnerable to tampering unless equipped with a machine that produces a voter verified paper receipt. 

National leaders, including president Kay Maxwell, have been known as supporters of paperless touchscreens, and previous league statements had called paper confirmation “unnecessary” and “counterproductive.” 

In an open letter to Maxwell circulated by Oakland League member Genevieve Katz and signed by more than 900 members, dissenters told the leadership they were “stifling” research and debate, and that they had “exceeded their authority.” 

As a result, last week’s convention produced a widely-supported vote that amended the LWV’s touch screen stance, officially making the organization neutral on the issue. “In order to ensure integrity and voter confidence in elections,” the resolution reads, “the LWVUS supports the implementation of voting systems and procedures that are secure, accurate, recountable and accessible.” 


Alameda County Touchscreen Update 

After having its touch screen machines temporarily decertified by the California Secretary of State, Alameda County is racing to be sure to meet the requirements to re-certify its machines in time for the November election. 

According to Brad Clark, the Registrar of Voters (ROV) for Alameda county, good progress is being made to meet the new requirements set forth by the Secretary of State Kevin Shelley after touch screen machines caused a number of serious problems during the recall and primary elections. 

Clark said currently the county is most pressed to install new software and firmware upgrades that are unavailable because they have not yet received state testing and certification. 

And while the county still plans to use their touch screens if everything stays on schedule, said Clark, the county is also looking at possibly having to use central count optical scan machines. If Alameda Count has to resort to optical scans, Clark said, the county will need between 50-100 new central machines, which will be placed at the ROV central office and will be used for counting the paper ballots filled out at polling places. Currently, the county only has eight optical scan machines.