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LETTER: Why change voting process?

Letter to the Editor:

To date, we have had the most secure voting procedures available!  Why would we want to change that?!  We've been told that electronic vote counting would likely be faster...  But, may there be some unintended consequences?

The quality of electronic voting machines cannot be determined "because their code is proprietary and they won't let anybody examine it," according to electronic security specialist, Aviel D. Rubin, PhD.  Electronic vote counting is not transparent; the public can't watch and check the counting inside the black box.  By comparison, with traditional voting, scrutineers do watch poll clerks count the paper ballots.

A lot of trust would be put in these machines - not to fail, not to be programmed maliciously, not to have been tampered with. 

Some voting machines that were already certified and in use were later found to have gross design and programming errors.  On the verifiedvoting.org website, the machine our city is considering is described as having a memory card that is sensitive:  "Corrupt memory cards may be able to introduce viruses, cause the main election server to crash and falsify votes.  Access to the memory card should be controlled, monitored and logged at all times."  Some versions of this electronic voting system have had issues with... intermittent screen freezes, system lock ups and shut downs; paper feed misalignment with optical sensor; failure to log all normal and abnormal system events; skewing of the ballot resulting in a negative effect on system accuracy... 

These are complex voting systems with many potential points of failure.  Such challenges could lead to unexpected delays, increased costs for hiring IT technicians, as well as the potential for invalid vote counts.

We'd like to believe that everything would turn out well, but why take the risk? 

Wouldn't it be wiser to keep our traditional voting system, a system that has served our community well for all these years?  The local economy would be boosted due to poll clerks being hired to count ballots,... and, once again, we'd get to feel the excitement waiting for the election results!  Wouldn't if feel good to be able to trust that our votes were counted, and that we had a truly democratic election?!

Do share your views on this matter with our mayor and city councillors as soon as possible, by visiting or phoning City Hall (250-442-8266) and asking for their contact information.

Donna Semenoff

Grand Forks, BC