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A Diebold electronic touch screen voting machine, as seen in Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 28th. (AP photo)

More last-minute questions about e-voting

ASK THIS | October 24, 2006

Are you ready for an electronic voting nightmare in your area? Are your election officials? Here are some questions for before and after the upcoming elections.

By Lawrence Norden

In the coming days, ask:

Q. How many emergency paper ballots will each polling place have available in case machines break down? Do you have clear procedures in place for distribution and use of such ballots? What are they? Will these ballots be counted under all circumstances, or will they be treated as "provisional" ballots?

Q. Do your voting machines have wireless components, and if so, will they be disabled on Election Day?

Q. Do you have independent election workers (as opposed to employees or contractors from the vendor) who can offer technical support for dealing with the electronic voting machines? If so, how many hours training have they received on these machines?

Q. Do all polling places have a list of key phone numbers to contact in the event of emergencies during the election that might affect the ability of voters to cast votes? How many personnel will you have available to answer such calls?

On the eve of election and afterward, ask:

Q. What steps were taken to ensure that totals printed out at the polling place were accurately recorded and totalled at the county tally server? Were pollworkers asked to check the Web and newspapers against copies of their polling place totals to ensure that the tally server correctly tallied their polling place votes?

Q. What were the procedures for getting vote totals and audit information (i.e., Event Logs, VVPAT records, paper ballots, machine printouts of totals) from each polling place to the central county office? Who transported this information? What measures were in place to ensure that they were delivered securely?

Also see David Dill's Last-minute questions about e-voting from October 18.

For more background on electronic voting and voting security, see Lawrence Norden's November 2005 item for NiemanWatchdog.org: Following up on an important GAO report on electronic voting and other NiemanWatchdog.org items on this important issue.

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