John McCaslin

Hanging chads. Dimpled chads. Pregnant chads. Nobody who counts election-year ballots — peering through a magnifying glass, or otherwise — ever wants to cross them again.

Welcome to the new electronic-voting age, which promises to alleviate ballot-counting headaches. Right? Don’t count on it.

Maryland is the latest state to warn its citizenry that brand new touch-screen voting machines might not be so reliable after all, including the lack of a proper paper trail that even chad-pocked paper ballots provided.

Then there’s the host of security-related issues that surround electronic voting systems. For instance, until adequate security measures are in place (so far they’re not), dreaded computer hackers could actually tamper with recorded votes.

Perhaps the voting public should follow the lead of the U.S. Congress, which casts votes practically every day it’s in session. Surely, after so many sessions, Congress has a foolproof voting system. Or does it?

Just for fun, The Beltway Beat is taking readers back three weeks ago, to the final days of congressional voting before the current August recess. Let’s allow the congressmen to speak for themselves.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, Georgia Republican: “Mr. Speaker, due to a mechanical failure with my voting card, my vote in favor of H. Res. 921 was not recorded. I strongly support the state of Israel, and am in full support of its actions to defend itself against the attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah.”

Speaking of Israel, Rep. Steve Israel, New York Democrat, cried: “Mr. Speaker, I mistakenly voted ‘no’ on roll call No. 384. I intended to vote in support of Mr. Watt’s amendment to preserve ... the Pledge of Allegiance.”

Did the voting go any easier for Rep. John Linder, Georgia Republican?

“Mr. Speaker, on roll-call vote No. 380, House passage of S. 2754, I inadvertently was recorded as voting ‘nay.’ I would like the record to reflect the fact that I wanted my vote to be recorded as ‘yea.’”

And you, Rep. Diana DeGette, Colorado Democrat?

“Mr. Speaker, I am listed as voting ‘yea’ during roll-call vote number 401 on H.R. 5013, the ‘Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006.’ This is an error. I oppose H.R. 5013 and want it noted that had my intention been properly expressed, I would be recorded as having voting ‘nay.’”

Rep. Ken Calvert, California Republican, has only himself to blame: “Mr. Speaker, I inadvertently voted ‘aye’ on roll call 417 . . . I would like the record to show that I had intended to vote ‘no.’”

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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