By William Glanz
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
High-tech voting devices passed the test Tuesday, making it more likely that state elections officials will retire punch cards and lever machines and introduce a new era of digital democracy. Electronic-voting machines are expected to produce more accurate results more quickly than paper ballots and help election officials avoid a debacle like the 2000 presidential election in Florida. But few counties rely on high-tech voting applications. This week's election confirmed for observers that electronic voting can work.
The election winner may not have been a specific candidate. It may have been the companies with electronic-voting technology on display in Florida, Georgia and Texas Ñ three states that funded the most expensive electronic-voting initiatives. ...
Most states are not expected to replace voting machines with electronic devices until the 2004 elections. Some waited for the federal government to pass the election-reform bill, signed by President Bush last week, because it includes $3.9 billion to help states fund new equipment. Others waited to see how new devices worked on Tuesday.
More than 500 of the nation's counties -- just 16 percent -- used high-tech devices this week, up from 293 counties in 2000, according to Election Data Services, a research company in the District.
But there is a growing debate over the security of electronic ballots because few people have access to the software code running electronic-voting machines, said Douglas Jones, associate professor of political science [sic] at the University of Iowa.
The software code should be more broadly available, he said.
"The fundamental problem is that the code is proprietary. The fear is that an individual or group of individuals could include malicious features in software that would evade notice and allow skewing of the results," Mr. Jones said.
Making software code more widely available could help voters, anxious over not having a paper record of their vote, become more comfortable with electronic voting, said Mr. Seligson of Electionline.org.