I feel some concern about the "new" voting machines being introduced in the Nov. 1 elections in Laurel. These ELECTronic 1242 machines provide no paper trail, or any voter-verifiable record that one's vote has been properly recorded. Lack of a paper trail also presents difficulties in the event of needing a recount. (The only printout available seems to be the totals from each machine at poll closing.)

In doing some Internet research on these machines, I have found documentation that during their usage in many areas of the country over the last 20 years they have often been involved in erroneous vote counts. A notable incident was in Franklin County, Ohio where phantom votes appeared in the 2004 presidential totals, with President Bush receiving 4,258 votes and John Kerry receiving 260 in a precinct with only 638 voters.

I'm very much opposed to the use of most of the current crop of electronic voting mechanisms, due to the many unknowns about their security, reliability and accountability. It appears far too easy, with the proper access, to bypass seals, hack software and data and generally cause havoc in the voting process. Additionally, with no paper backup, meaningful recounts are impossible.

Dana Schwartz


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