Amid doubts about the reliability and security of electronic voting machines, there is Michael Shamos.
Shamos, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, puts electronic machines through the paces for the state of Pennsylvania.
He was in the news a couple of weeks ago when he tested Montgomery County’s 1996-vintage electronic machines, which had been upgraded to meet the demands of federal law. Shamos found some bugs in the county system, which got another chance for certification on Tuesday.
In a telephone interview last week, Shamos said a possible solution was for the county to still use the individual Sequoia machines, which worked fine, but add the numbers from each machine by using something other than Sequoia’s vote-counting software, which did not.
He said people opposed to electronic voting sometimes jump on such problems. ”Any irregularity is trumped up to be, ‘See, I told you these machines were no good.”’
I asked Shamos if there was anything he could say to the people of Bucks County, who soon will switch from mechanical to electronic voting machines (even if it’s not in time for the coming primary election). He said his style is not to give blanket endorsements of electronic voting to make people feel better. ”If the objective is to make the voters feel better,” Shamos said, ”you can do that by giving them Valium at the polling place.”