Voters in York and Chester counties and across South Carolina will still use touch-screen voting machines even though other states have banned similar products made by the same company.
Last month, top election officials in Ohio and Colorado declared that iVotronic machines are unfit for elections. The ban was prompted by a study done for the state of Ohio that said electronic voting systems could be corrupted with magnets or with handheld electronic devices, such as Treos.
The iVotronic machines have been used statewide in South Carolina since 2006. They'll remain in place, the state Election Commission said Monday, because no malfunctions have ever been documented in the state. Various problems have occurred, but they were caused by human error, said spokesman Chris Whitmire.
"It's not a perfect voting system," said Whitmire. "There's not one that exists."
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Record votes on paper, too?
Reacting to the Ohio study's findings the South Carolina League of Women Voters has renewed its call for the state to record votes on paper as well as electronically to allow for accuracy checks.
"It's very difficult to get evidence that somebody tampered with the vote if you have no way of knowing what the vote was before they tampered," said Eleanor Hare, a computer scientist who participated in a study of the machines by the South Carolina League of Women Voters.
But that idea poses its own problems. Recording votes on paper raises the prospect of paper jams that can hold up lines and lead to chaos at polling places, Whitmire said. If written entries aren't recorded properly, votes can potentially be disqualified, he added.
Company disputes findings
The company that makes the machines says on its Web site that it disagrees with the Ohio report's technical findings.
"All of our voting systems have been thoroughly tested and examined under realistic election conditions before those systems are ever made available to states for additional testing and consideration," the company's statement says. "The testing and certification processes already in place are extremely rigorous, ensuring that voting systems meet well-established standards for performance under realistic election conditions."
Whitmire echoed the sentiment about realistic conditions, saying scientists can always find ways to manipulate electronic machines. The real test, he said, is whether the machines work in real-world election environments.