Sue Bernhard


Statement in support of Paper Ballot-Optical Scanner Systems

November 21, 2006


Thank you for holding this hearing.


I oppose the use of electronic voting machines, DREs, because of security concerns.


There is no way to assure that the votes in a DRE are secure. The Brennan Center report published in June this year described how the voter-verified paper trail itself can be falsified. I believe that introducing computers into the voting and election process adds an unnecessary unmanageable dimension of variables and uncertainty.


So few people really understand computers, we would be fools to turn over our elections to some mysterious big box, with the hope that it will work correctly.


When election irregularities occur around the country, the people responsible for running elections just shrug and say, "computer glitch." Then it doesn't matter that thousands of votes were lost, or voters saw their votes jump to another candidate on the touchscreen, or that electronic voting machines would not boot up, or that they crashed, or that the voter-verified paper printout jammed or was blank. The magic words "computer glitch" seem to be accepted as an excuse for any and every irregularity. If a person was responsible for these irregularities, we would never allow it to continue.


I suggest that people are responsible. If a Board of Elections acquires equipment that they don't understand and cannot manage, they are responsible if the equipment fails.


For these reasons, I urge you to avoid high-tech election equipment, and select paper ballot-optical scanner systems. This simpler equipment will be more manageable for our election staff, poll workers, and voters. I urge you to start now to find and evaluate security procedures for safeguarding paper ballots. Surely other industries that deal with the security of products and papers have ways of protecting them through the use of cameras, heat sensors, and other means.


Thank you.