Problems cropped up over the weekend with touch-screen voting machines in South Carolina, further convincing some Iowans optical scanners are the best way to go. Sean Flaherty, co-chairman of Iowans for Voting Integrity , says a large number of touch-screen machines crashed in the Myrtle Beach area during the GOP primary, apparently due to human error.
Flaherty says: "That’s something that happens when you bring that much complexity to the voting process. What’s really disturbing about the machines in South Carolina is that they’re known to be highly insecure and they lack a paper trail." He says that paper trail is vital to maintaining the integrity of the whole process of an election.
Flaherty, who lives in Iowa City, says any kind of computer system can be subject to error or manipulation that’s very hard to see, so if there’s not a record of the vote that’s independent of the system’s software, you might not know anything had gone wrong.
He says the machines used in several states, made by several vendors, have all been found by computer scientists to be hackable in ways that would be very difficult to detect. Flaherty says many Iowa voters are now faced with using the touch-screen voting machines, though they should have paper back-ups before the next election.
He says many Iowa counties are using the touch-screens and they’ll be required to have printers attached by November. Flaherty says the best system is where voters fill out a paper ballot that’s read by optical scanning machines, like the S-A-T test. He says Iowa legislators are looking closely at a statewide optical scanning system.