Matt Towery

Nevertheless the war of words over new voting systems continues. Various self-styled studies have suggested problems with electronic voting. One turned out to have been supported by someone who owned stock in a rival company to the one whose voting system was being challenged. In other cases, the controversy has focused on leaked internal memos or e-mails in which employees of a system manufacturer appear to express concerns about the security and reliability of their company's product.

The truth is that some of the concerns being expressed by the critics of this new style of voting may well be valid. It's not inconceivable that in an age in which identities can be stolen, funds be fraudulently transferred, and entire computer systems be hacked or infected with viruses that we might one day find ourselves the victim of major electronic election fraud.

At the same time, more than a few election contests conducted by traditional voting methods have been suspected of being fraudulent or manipulated in some way. For one, it has been widely thought that the results in Illinois for the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon presidential contest were influenced by election hijinks. Thousands of sorely needed last-minute ballots came cascading in for Kennedy, providing the Democrats with a narrow margin of victory.

Those who have been part of voter recounts under the old punch-card system won't be surprised that elections might be the subject of chicanery. Then again, most old hands are used to seeing huge amounts of unreported "street money" -- often used literally to buy votes -- enter into the Election Day picture. And don't forget the standby ploy of holding open particular polling places hours after the polls close, in order to "stack" the necessary votes needed to win an election. Put all that together and one starts to get an idea of how vulnerable the voting process can be, regardless of the method used to tabulate votes.

Those critical of electronic voting may or may not have some basis for their concern. But it seems their concern is quickly amplified when Republicans win races. Where were these concerned voices before Bush-Gore 2000? Were they comfortable in the knowledge that the method was OK as long as the "correct" candidates won?

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a pollster, attorney, businessman and former elected official. He served as campaign strategist for Congressional, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns. His latest book is Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth. Follow him on Twitter @MattTowery