Electronic voting has been a hot topic here in Utah over the last several months. I've been involved in the debate, testifying last October to the Utah Legislature and writing an op-ed piece. The issue was an imminent purchase of new voting equipment and an RFP on the equipment that didn't insist on a voter verified paper ballot. Yesterday, the Utah House passed HB 211, Integrity of Election Results Amendments sponsored by Rep. John Dougall. HB211 does the following:
- requires that voting equipment produce a permanent paper record that is available for the voter's inspection prior to the voter leaving the polling place that (A) shall be available as an official record for any recount or challenge conducted with respect to an election where the automated voting system is used; (B) shall include a human readable format which shall be the ultimate record of the voter's intent; (C) may also include a machine readable format which may be the same as the human readable format; and (D) allows voting poll watchers and counting poll watchers to observe the election process to ensure its integrity.
- requires that the Lt Governor assemble a voting equipment selection committee whenever voting equipment will be purchased and requires that the Lt. Governor ensure that the committee includes persons having experience in: (i) election procedures and administration; (ii) computer technology; (iii) data security; (iv) auditing; and (v) access for persons with disabilities.
This bill isn't perfect but I'm firmly of the opinion that its the best bill we could get this session and its certainly better than leaving it all up to chance. There are a few holes; for example, under this bill, I think its possible the State could purchase equipment that makes recounts extremely costly. At some point, however, you have to trust that the people who have to make such recounts work will find it in their best interest to purchase systems that make recounts as easy as possible. eVoting activists will worry about a lot of the details, but I think the bill indicates a clear intention from the legislature that the voting system be trustworthy and establishes enough requirements that the Elections Office can fill in the rest.
Now, its on to the Senate where Curt Bramble is the sponsor.