Welcome audit of voting machines

Those questioning the reliability of South Carolina’s voting machines should actually get some answers this year as the state Legislative Audit Council undertakes a review of their operation. It should go a long way to determining whether the state’s iVotronic machines are dependable, need to be modified or ought to be scrapped.

The study, which will get under way next month, regrettably isn’t expected to be finished in time for the state to make any major modifications, if needed, before the general election in November. But it could alert election officials to potential shortcomings prior to that vote. That allows the possibility of adjustments to the system.

The audit request, from then-Sen. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, cited questions raised about the machines by the James Island Public Service Commission, regarding the lack of a paper trail for vote tallies. Mr. McConnell requested that the LAC review the electronic machines currently used with an eye toward their possible replacement “with voting machines that incorporate a paper trail or with a replacement process whereby we can have a confirmation that the results are accurate.”

Questions about the reliability of the electronic voting machines also have been raised by the League of Women Voters and by the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, as well as by numerous individual voters. In addition, security doubts have arisen with reports that electronic machines or their tallies are vulnerable to hackers.

Researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory have found that some electronic voting machines can be compromised by expert hackers using inexpensive electronic equipment. Their study, however, hasn’t included the machines in use in South Carolina.

The Audit Council is expected to examine both the operation of the machines in South Carolina elections and those in other states. Presumably, it also will examine the findings of the Argonne team.

At the least, the LAC investigation should help clear the air. That in itself would be a major contribution to the state’s election process.

As Mr. McConnell — now the state’s lieutenant governor — said in his audit request: “The integrity of our voting system is of utmost concern to all Americans and is one of the cornerstones in ensuring that this Republic endures at the will of its people for generations to come.”

It is essential to preserve the integrity of the state’s electoral system, and the voters’ confidence in it.

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