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Voting Machine Critics Worry About Possible Tampering

Electronic Voting

Photo: Stan Jastrzebski / WFIU News

Slips like these, with bar codes on them, are part of Monroe County's voting system.

Indiana counties will publicly test their voting machines this week to make sure they are tallying votes correctly. But some activists contend the test does not address a larger problem.

A Stanford computer scientist created the Verified Voting Foundation in 2004 to lobby states to implement more safeguards against voting-machine tampering, starting with a paper trail to verify vote counts if necessary.

The push-button machines used in 52 Indiana counties create that paper trail on a printout inside the machine which records every individual ballot cast, but Julia Vaughn with Common Cause of Indiana maintains that is not enough. She argues there is nothing to compare those votes to.

“Indiana doesn‘t have an automatic percentage of votes that we audit, or after the fact do we make sure that the technology was working correctly,” Vaughn says.

34 counties, including Marion County, use optical-scan ballots which can be reviewed individually if there is a recount. And Vaughn says Indiana should follow the example of 25 states who conduct random audits after the election to look for any glitches.

Secretary of State Connie Lawson notes both parties are represented at all phases of the process, from the pre-election test to polling places to the counting of ballots. And she says the machines cannot be hacked.

“Those machines are not connected to the Internet, so I don‘t understand the concern about the hacking of the machines,” Lawson says.

Vaughn argues that doesn‘t preclude someone inside the electoral system tampering with the process.

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