Ann Frisch's community column in Wednesday's Northwestern referred to a study that Dr. Frisch conducted with Dr. Corrine Donley with the assistance of County Clerk Sue Ertmer.
The data from that study has been posted here at the request of Dr. Frisch for your perusal.
On Oct. 19 last year, a colleague and I reviewed the touch-screen ballot summaries from the November 2006 election, the first election in which every polling place in Winnebago County had a touch screen voting machine. It was not our intent to conduct an audit to see if every vote was counted accurately. Our goal was to determine the number of voters who used the Diebold TSX touch screen machines by polling place.She concluded with:
In spite of a reputation for clean, well-run elections in Winnebago County, it's clear that voters did not trust the touch screen machines – neither in the spring of 2006 when the issue of purchasing touch-screens came before the county board and not in November 2006 when they were first put to use. In my opinion, the distrust is coming from real vulnerabilities nationally. See http://www.votersunite.org.
A 100 percent audit of the touch screen ballots would allow evaluation of over counts and under counts. At a minimum, duplicates of the computer tapes could be made at each election and placed in our public libraries.
The voting clerk's statistical report could include the number of touch screen voters with less difficulty than reporting the absentee ballots.
Finally, a Citizens' Commission is needed to listen to voters about their experiences with touch screen machines, to monitor the reliability of the machines and to make recommendations for municipal and county ordinances to protect our election systems.
In my opinion, faith in the accuracy of our voting system is critical to our democracy. One look at Kenya in December, Ohio in 2004 or Florida in 2000 makes it painfully clear that we need to have in place a solidly secure election system, not a faith-based voting system. Our existing system of optical scan ballots by Diebold has served us wonderfully. Implementing a simple tool to allow the visually impaired and people with disabilities to vote using the same optical scan ballots as everyone else would have been (and still can be) the most cost effective and secure means of complying with HAVA (Help America Vote Act), which is why we got the TSX machines in the first place. Lets not forget that HAVA required a system in place to help the disabled vote, it did not require electronic voting machines.