Panel of Election Officials to Discuss Voting System Integrity for November Elections

Sept. 19, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas — The Center for Politics and Governance (CPG) at the LBJ School of Public Affairs will host a panel of prominent election officials for "Voting System Integrity: Can We Be Confident in the Accuracy of the Results?" at 2 p.m., Sept. 29 at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on The University of Texas at Austin campus.

Highlighting the discussion will be Rosemary Rodriguez, chairwoman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission which oversees voting system certification; Doug Chapin, director of electionline.org, the division of the Pew Charitable Trusts and an expert on election law/policy news; Dan Wallach, technology professor at Rice University and a prominent critic of paperless electronic voting systems; and David Beirne, executive director of the Election Technology Council, the national trade organization for voting system vendors. Ray Martinez, a former U.S. Election Assistance commissioner and a fellow with the Center for Politics and Governance, will lead the panel.

For a state and local perspective, the panel will also include Ann McGeehan, Elections Division director for the Texas Secretary of State's office, and Dana DeBeauvoir, Travis County Clerk (and LBJ School alumna) whose office manages Travis County's paperless electronic voting system. More information about the event can be found on the Center for Politics and Governance Web site. A webcast of the event will also be available on the site.

"Across the country polling officials are worried that an influx of new voters and new voting technologies may overload electoral systems resulting in long lines, over-stressed poll workers and late-night tallies all of which could have significant impact on the election," said Veronica Vargas Stidvent, director of CPG. "Recent experience suggests that these concerns are warranted, particularly the recent cases of presidential ballots in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, and congressional races in California and Florida in 2006.

"Since 2000, federal and state governments have enacted laws—particularly the federal Help America Vote Act—to improve balloting by insuring the transparency and accuracy of voting systems," Martinez said. "The panel will discuss whether these laws actually improved the functioning and operation of the myriad of voting systems used throughout the country today. Is the U.S. Election Assistance Commission's authority to 'certify and decertify' voting systems improving the accuracy of vote totals? Should the voting public feel more confident in the accuracy of voting systems today than in 2000?"