is the Fourth of July, the nation's birthday. A day that evokes feelings of pride in the freedom we all enjoy. What better
day to consider a fundamental right and privilege that helps guarantee that freedom.
We're talking about voting; more specifically, about how the votes we cast each Election Day are counted. Here in Bucks County we've been voting a long time on mechanical machines.
Anyone who has voted here knows the drill: Pull the big lever one way to close the curtain; then flip a bunch of little levers
to choose candidates or answer ballot questions; then pull the big lever the other way to record the choices and open the
The machines are pretty low-tech. But they have served Bucks County well for some 50 years. Now, however, the law says
those machines must be replaced by newer, electronic machines that supposedly are more user-friendly and more reliable. The
new machines have to be in place by next year's election.
The state will certify what types of new voting machines can be used. Bucks County
and other counties still using older machines are waiting for the state to act. Meanwhile, there's a lot of grumbling here
and no doubt elsewhere that 1) replacing the old machines isn't necessary and 2) some of the new machines are far from foolproof
and that they might even foster vote tampering and fraud at the polls. That's because some electronic machines produce no
paper trail or other method to verify the vote counts.
With all of the marvelous technology that exists in virtually every aspect of modern life, we're stumped why someone somewhere
hasn't come up with a way to record and tabulate votes that is fast, easy and reliable and whose accuracy cannot be compromised.
This is not, as they say, rocket science. It is a fundamental activity of democratic government.
For comparison, consider where we would be without the ubiquitous amtomatic teller machine, or ATM. These machines process
millions of financial transactions every day with few problems that we know of. We trust these machines to handle our money;
for many people, there is no greater trust to be given.
Why, then, can't there be a voting machine we can trust? It makes no sense that, nearly five years after the disputed presidential
election of 2000, states and counties are still fretting over what should be a non-problem.
Let's get serious about this. Let's find a voting machine that's easy to use, doesn't confuse the voter, is efficient and
creates a verifiable record (the so-called paper trail) of every vote that's cast.
In a free country celebrating its 229th birthday today, that isn't too much to expect.