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Release: Sept. 27, 2002

UI professor to speak on voting systems at Sept. 30 international conference

Douglas W. Jones, associate professor of computer science in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will be a featured speaker on the subject of voting systems at the Sept. 29 through Oct. 2 Council on Government Ethics Laws (COGEL) conference in Ottawa, Canada.

Jones will participate in a Sept. 30 discussion and debate on the comparative merits of different kinds of voting systems, a topic of interest due to problems experienced during the Florida Democratic primary for governor. Jones, who chairs the Iowa Board of Examiners for Voting Machines and Electronic Voting Systems, cautions that all voting systems have advantages and disadvantages that must be taken into account.

"The data from election 2000 is a gold mine from which we can learn a great deal about how and how not to run elections," he says. "The clearest lesson found in this data is that human factors, both in ballot design and election administration, were the cause of far more problems than flawed election machinery. The problems in the 2002 primaries only serve to underscore this conclusion."

Jones, who testified at a public hearing before the Federal Election Commission in Washington D.C. in April, also testified in January 2001 at the 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. He also gave a May 2001 presentation before the U.S. House of Representatives Science Committee.

His fellow panel members at the COGEL conference are Rebecca Mercuri of Bryn Mawr College, Charles Stewart III of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Canadian elections expert Daniel Guerin.

COGEL is a Washington, D.C.-based professional organization for government agencies, organizations, and individuals with responsibilities or interests in governmental ethics, elections, campaign finance, lobby laws and freedom of information.