Local News

State Lawmakers Examine Voting Issues With Carteret As Backdrop

Posted January 7, 2005

— State lawmakers don't want to see another election mess like the one in Carteret County so they've turned to experts for help on electronic voting systems.

After 4,500 votes were lost on a touch-screen machine, a committee of the legislature is working on fixing the problem.

"It's extremely important because we've already seen what happened in Carteret County and now we've got all this controversy and expense revolving around a statewide race, Commissioner of Agriculture," said state Sen. Austin Allran, the committee's co-chair.

The committee has brought in experts to discuss the highlights and lowlights of electronic voting.

"People want some type of tangible medium," said Rebecca Mercui, a voting expert. "That's why we get receipts at the bank, why we're given a lottery ticket instead of somebody saying we'll call you if you won."

Chuck Herrin tests computer security for a living. He doesn't think North Carolina should use electronic voting at all.

Herrin said, while computers are more efficient, they're much more vulnerable to fraud than paper ballots.

"Voting integrity is not a factor to be traded off for speed or convenience," Herrin said.

Allran said paper ballots might be considered radical by voters.

"The question is whether or not it would be feasible to go backward to paper ballots which would probably come across to most people as radical and maybe counter progressive," Allran said.

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