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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

E-Voting: Thumbs Down

September 28, 2004

Re "Tallying the Woes of Electronic Balloting," Sept. 24: Any good systems engineer could have predicted these results. Evidently the not-so-improved machines and voting process were not subjected to the usual known procedures of review of past failures, rigid specifications for new systems, research and development, preproduction, production and then, worst-case testing.

The situation is all the more incomprehensible because an available, tested and reasonably reliable system using marked ballots and optical scanning has proved effective. Any faults it has could be easily corrected. Even more tragic is that the punch-card system can be made very good by changing the stylus from a needle point to one with the shape of the hole and by correspondingly changing the platen.

Samuel Sensiper

Santa Barbara

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With regard to your article on e-voting, it's time we gave up on all the newfangled voting systems and went back to the original system in which we didn't need to be told what we had to do. We could just sign in, take the voting list into the booth, fill in the forms with a pencil, and drop them into the receptacle and hope they would be collected and properly counted.

Howard Niederman

San Juan Capistrano

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Re "E-Voting: Trust, but Verify," editorial, Sept. 23: I think people may be misinformed when they see their vote on the voting machine screen and assume that they have cast their vote. Yes, the vote can be observed and deemed correct or, if not, the voter can correct it, but what is unknown is if that vote is correctly registered internally.

The machines can be programmed to register or not register votes. Without both a receipt to the voter and a hard copy that is verified after the vote is registered and then dropped into a secure box, our votes cannot be secured. It is because of this, and until these problems are addressed, I will be voting absentee.

Sue Walls

Huntington Beach

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