Certified equipment fails

Published: Thursday, April 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2004 at 10:57 p.m.

It appalls me, but does not surprise me, to learn that the State Division of Elections feels the need to certify holes in a plastic sheet ("Braille voting aid rejected for now," The Sun, March 25).

It is naive of Doug Hornbeck to think that his $1.50 device will be tolerated when the state has already sanctioned a solution to allow the blind to vote: $5,000 devices from two vendors, one of which will give sales commissions to a former secretary of state.

The Division of Elections is a bureaucracy that could never tolerate a simple solution whose accuracy can readily be verified, preferring faith-based paperless electronic machines that have been condemned by the computer security community as untrustworthy and unverifiable.

Certified equipment includes the likes of that used in Bay County, where in this year's presidential preferential election Dick Gephardt had a 2-1 lead over John Kerry. If that were not a race where a certain outcome was expected, the error would have never been caught. And, if there had been two candidates with 51 percent and 49 percent of the vote, no one would have been suspicious, the results would not have been close enough to trigger a recount, and the wrong candidate would have been declared the winner. But that's OK: it would have been done on certified equipment that has, unlike Doug Hornbeck's plastic sheet, been thoroughly and rigorously tested.

Certified equipment has caused enough recent problems to fill up this whole newspaper. Alas, no standards exist to certify holes made in plastic, and certification is far more important than common sense.

And, for the bottom line, uncertified equipment doesn't make anyone rich.

Vincent J. Lipsio,


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