CONTACT: GARY GALLUZZO
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0009; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Jan. 5, 2001
UI computer science professor to testify before U.S. Civil Rights Commission
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Installing identical voting machines at polling places
across the country in an effort to avoid a repeat of the problems that plagued
the 2000 presidential election could create more problems than it would solve,
according to a University of Iowa expert.
Douglas W. Jones, associate professor of computer science in the University
of Iowa College of Liberal Arts, is scheduled to testify Thursday at U.S.
Civil Rights Commission hearings in Tallahassee, Fla. on voting machine technology
and whether the rights of voters were violated during the 2000 election.
Jones says that he was invited by the Commission to testify at the Jan.
11-12 hearings, in part, because he chairs the Iowa Board of Examiners for
Voting Machines and Electronic Voting Systems. He plans to discuss the range
of available technology, making sure that Commission members realize that
there are trade-offs involved. He emphasizes that installing one brand of
machine across the country -- as some election reformers have suggested --
would pose the greatest risk of all.
"Each type of voting machine technology has advantages and disadvantages,"
he says. "But uniformity of voting machines has a major disadvantage;
it would freeze the state-of-art. It would essentially pull the rug out from
under a vibrant marketplace for designing and manufacturing voting machines.
"I don't want to be stuck with a single technology today, only to learn
10 years down the road that there is something terribly wrong with it. The
risk of insider fraud would be great with a single type of machine or a single
technology," he says. "I would much rather see six vendors competing
in the marketplace instead of a monopoly."
Jones says that with several companies manufacturing machines of differing
design, as is the case today, it is much more difficult for insiders to commit
vote fraud. At the same time, he sees the need for far tougher standards governing
the voting systems we use.
"The call for uniformity in improving our elections should be used
to set uniform standards of performance for various types of machines -- not
to dictate the uniform use of a particular product," he says. Jones adds
that the standards he advocates would eliminate punched card ballots with
all the problems of the hanging chads.