House bill would ban touch-screen voting

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(Host) The Vermont House approved legislation on Thursday that bans the use of computer touch screen voting machines in Vermont. A number of states are considering the machines as part of a ballot reform initiative, but the state of Vermont has no plans to use the systems.

There are growing concerns that it’s possible to alter the voting software programs on computers to redirect votes to a candidate that a voter hasn’t chosen. Because the touch screen machines don’t have any paper ballots, any recount would be dependent on the original software.

The bill approved by the House requires all towns in Vermont to use voting systems that have a paper ballot. Many towns still use paper ballots and the optical scan machines used by a number of communities also utilize a paper system. Bristol Representative David Sharpe urged his colleagues to support the bill:

(Sharpe) “In general this bill reflects improvements to the election laws we passed last year. Section 1 of the bill requires the use of printed ballots – this is how Vermont elections are currently conducted. Printed ballots are used by all voters, some are counted by election workers and some are counted by tabulating machines. The Secretary of State foresees no change in that procedure.”

(Host) The bill also allows the Secretary of State to conduct random audits of voting systems to insure the accuracy of these systems.

The measure will come up for final approval in the House on Friday.

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