The most clever advertisement on television today is when the Maytag repairman saves the day at a polling booth by holding up a handful of crumpled ballots that he has just removed from a voting machine.
I watched that advertisement the other day as I was reviewing the latest public opinion polls from the 2008 Presidential Election. These latest polls told the same story as nearly every other Presidential tracking poll this year. It is a very close race for the White House in the 2008 election.
Indeed, it is a race that on election day may be decided by a handful of votes in a few battleground states. So, while contemplating another very close election, i wondered about the American voting system. I asked myself two question: Is our voting system fixed or will there be more controversy surrounding hanging chads and disputed votes on election day 2008? Will this election be decided in the legal system again or by accurately counting the total vote?
First, we should consider that the American voting system has dramatically changed since 2000. Funding from The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002, has permitted states and counties to replace outdated punch card and lever voting machines with electronic voting systems.
As a result, during the November 2006 general elections, just 12.7 percent of registered voters nationwide used the outdated equipment, compared with 45 percent in 2000. So, many Americans will vote in the 2008 election using equipment that represents the latest technology.
However, before polling places consider throwing away the telephone number of the Maytag repairman, they may want to read the latest test results concerning electronic voting equipment.
Several recent studies commissioned by the states of California and Ohio concluded that most Electronic Voting Systems are plagued by security glitches, and the technology has yet to prove itself as the solution many were looking for. The study concluded that such systems could allow voters and poll workers to place multiple votes, crash the systems by loading viruses, and fake vote tallies.
Of course, the American taxpayer should ask why these security questions were not resolved by election officials throughout the United States prior to the purchase of these electronic voting systems from Diebold (now called Premier), several years ago. The answer may be that in their haste to secure the latest in voting technology, many election officials did not exhibit proper due-diligence.
The fact is that the security of the voting equipment is so bad in the battleground state of Ohio, Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, is suing Premier the maker of the touch-screen voting systems in which Ohio has invested more than $62 million since 2005.
In her complaint, Brunner states: "We believe that Premier's equipment has failed to perform as required by its contracts and according to state law. We have taken this action to recover taxpayer funds spent for voting systems used in half of the state's 88 counties."
The truth is that paperless voting is not secure and will not be in time for the 2008 Presidential election. If this 2008 election is very close, it may well be that the security of the electronic vote becomes as controversial as the hanging chad was in Florida in the year 2000 in several battleground states.
Indeed, the 2008 Electronic Voting Machine may be something that not even the Maytag repairman can easily fix.