Voting Errors

RECEIVED Thu., March 16, 2006

Dear Editor,
    I read an article recently that was published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which called a 100,000 over-vote on their Tarrant County eSlate voting system a "program snafu.” Imagine that. An electronic voting system, which our Secretary of State Roger Williams keeps touting as "easier, faster, and more secure,” made an error. An error which caused 100,000 votes which were never cast, to be counted. And how did the election officials catch the error? Well, they looked at the total number of votes cast according to the machines and realized that the county voting totals far exceeded the votes cast in their 2002 primary. A record turnout according to the machine totals. Democracy may be on the march, but it's not speeding away from us. Or is it?
    The software on the eSlate was compounding election totals every time it updated totals throughout the night. Hart Intercivic vice-president, John Covell, admitted that his company told the system to do that incorrectly. Oh my, but Roger Williams says these e-voting systems are more secure. How can computers make mistakes? Well you just saw a real example right here in Texas, in Tarrant County on March 7.
    Luckily the election officials recognized that the machines made a mistake. The machine totals were so grossly wrong that humans were able to catch the errors. What if the machines only made small rounding errors that humans couldn't quickly catch? Don't think this is the first machine mistake in an election where these electronic voting systems are used. Educate yourself and demand that your county, our state, and our nation move to verified voter paper audit trails and ballots. Voters Unite at www.votersunite.org is a good Web site to start your education. Voters in Travis County vote on eSlate too.
Sonia Santana
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