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HolidayBuyer's Guide

E-voting--a straightforward solution?

In response to the report written by Robert Lemos, "The big election beta test":

The notion of e-voting--as conceived since Election Day 2000--seems to me to be overkill to what should be a straightforward solution to a straightforward problem. The problems in Florida, in 2000, arose for one simple reason: The margin of error for 104-year-old card reader technology was greater than the margin of victory.

For years, many polling places have used various forms of balloting that have not relied upon paper. Some used portable electronic means of balloting; others used mechanical means. All are subject to some margin of error. The problem with punched cards is that they are simply more susceptible to misreading--and with every recount, the margin of error increases.

It is a mistake to throw out the baby with the bath water and adopt completely untested technologies to solve an otherwise nonexistent problem with many of the technologies already in place today that are being used reliably. It is also a mistake for legislation to mandate a paper trail which, itself, is dramatically limited--and susceptible to much larger margins of error than most any machine-tabulated technology.

After all, a much larger human error is introduced whenever a relatively small number of people must count--by hand--a large number or paper ballots over an extended but legally restricted period of time.

C. Marc Wagner
Bloomington, Ind.