Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Critic of voting centers, electronic polling still has questions

Posted on March 11, 2014 at 2:18 p.m.

There’s only a couple days left in the 2014 Indiana General Assembly Session and I’m loosing hope that Sen. Joe Zakas, Sen. Carlin Yoder and Rep. Wes Culver will honor their word to respond to me about amendments this session to voting laws that could give local communities more voting system choices If very narrow state mandates were repealed . A mail-in ballot system was estimated by County Clerk Wendy Hudson plausibly to save Indiana taxpayers thousands of dollars while maintaining a more reliable permanent paper record.

I’ve been following the Indiana voting centers proposals ever since St. Joseph Commissioner Dave Thomas encouraged me to attend the first public meeting at the South Bend Library reporting on pilot voting centers in Tippecanoe County in the last elections. Since then, I’ve attended and asked questions at four public meetings in Elkhart County on voting centers.

While local officials have done a good job making the case that the status quo of so many precincts is hard to staff, I remain unconvinced the local bipartisan committee challenged any assumptions of the proposed solution. The proposal for wireless networked system of internet based poll books appears structured to replicate the Republican Party’s failed “ORCA” instant database voting reporting network with a taxpayer-funded one. It’s unconvincing that expensive equipment is needed to stop fraud by a voter in multiple locations that would seem to be effectively discouraged by the threat of felony charges and signed paper poll books that is ready-made evidence.

Yet the electronic poll books don’t scare me nearly as much as the decertification of paper scanners and mandated touch screen- based computers. Pure digital voting has fallen out of favor in America and all over the world after testing by computer scientists like Princeton Professor Edward Felton showed the machines were vulnerable to hackers.

TOM BUTLER

Elkhart