This time last year, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz's office was putting the finishing touches on a contract with Danaher Controls, the maker of an electronic ATM-style voting machine, to replace the traditional lever-style machines in the state's 769 polling places.
TrueVote CT, a citizens group of computer experts and professors, was a vocal critic of the technology, arguing it was costly, complicated and corruptible. Instead, they said, Connecticut should go with an optical-scan machine, in which a voter marks a ballot that is then scanned by a computer.
Around the time the agreement with Danaher was to be signed, Ms. Bysiewicz abruptly announced the deal was off; she accused the company of failing to meet the bid requirements and of misleading her agency.
Several months later, during an August press conference, Ms. Bysiewicz appeared with members of TrueVote CT to announce that her office had selected an optical-scan technology instead.
The wisdom of that choice was confirmed last week, when the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the federal government's premier research institutions, issued a draft report endorsing optical scanning as the most secure and reliable voting technology.
The report also concludes that ATM-style voting machines, especially ones lacking a "paper trail" or record for confirming votes, "cannot be made secure." Even machines that produce paper trails aren't trouble-free, according to the federal standards agency. In many cases, printers have jammed, causing election officials to speculate whether they are an improvement.
Many thanks to members of TrueVote CT. Their willingness to shoulder civic responsibility and to apply their expertise and vigilance to the cause has helped to protect and strengthen voting in Connecticut.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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