It’s no secret that opposing political parties frequently disagree. But when it comes to voting machines currently used in their state, South Carolina Democrats and Republicans unite in demand for improvement.
Distrust in the use of electronic voting machines is noted in the 2011 resolutions of both state parties. Both call for changes to include verification, if not complete replacement, by paper records.
The Abbeville County Republican Party forwarded a resolution, recently passed at its county convention, to the state GOP calling for an end to use of all types of voting machines in the state, and recommending “use (of) paper ballots exclusively from this point forward(.)”
This resolution will be voted on at the SCGOP 2011 convention, scheduled for May 7 in Columbia.
Resolutions of the state Democratic Party will include similar terms, according to Susan Smith, a Georgetown County representative to the SCDP’s Executive Committee. A member of its subcommittee on resolutions, Smith says a 2011 resolution will call for a paper trail verification of votes.
SCDP delegates will vote on all resolutions at its April 30 state convention.
Perhaps foreshadowing the woes of the 2010 Democratic primary elections, which included the nomination of a questionable unknown over a renowned judge for U.S. Senate candidacy, last year’s SCDP resolutions also specified need for vote verification by paper trail.
The 2010 SCDP Resolution 15 reads, “To protect the democratic voting process from programming error, equipment malfunction, and malicious tampering of DRE systems by installing voter verified paper records for every machine in use.”
Concerns of the state parties are shared by other officials and investigators, as well. The Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester Counties’ Council of Governments recently addressed concerns that continue to brew regarding the currently used voting machines.
Frank Heindel, a local businessman who has researched the validity of local election results produced by electronic voting machines since last June’s primary, addressed COG earlier this month on his findings.
COG agreed to request the State Assembly authorize the Legislative Audit Council to investigate these concerns further.
The state senate recently debated a bill that would require voting machines issue paper receipts to voters as verification, as well.
Even if the resolutions pass both party conventions, though, and with or without the passage of any bills or aide from the Legislative Audit Council, that doesn’t mean the State Election Commission will honor the requests.
Chris Whitmire, SEC spokesperson, defends the validity of results produced by electronic voting machines.
SEC executive director Marci Andino says there is no current model of voting machine that can produce a paper receipt for voters to take.
The costs of new voting machines – declared to be from $15 million to $30 million – could be problematic to the state’s current budget circumstances, too, many imply.
Since 2004 has South Carolina used iVotronic™ voting devices, which are produced by ES&S, a company Andino once worked with indirectly.
The machines are just over half of their predicted span of usability, Andino says, and won’t need replacement until about 2018.
Some states, including Ohio and Louisiana, no longer use these same iVotronic machines due to established problems and security flaws. Ohio now requires paper ballots be issued by request, as well.
Problems with the validity of iVotronic-produced results are also reported in Texas, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Florida.
After Andino addressed the senate panel debating the bill for paper ballots on April 14, the subcommittee took no further action, which might leave Democrats and Republicans in the state seeking other means to uphold their resolutions, if passed at this year’s conventions.
Currently, the only method South Carolina voters have to avoid iVotronic devices are absentee ballots submitted by mail, pending on application to determine eligibility.
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