Even before the last chad was detached in the 2000 Florida election fiasco, discussions began about how to improve the voting systems in the 170,000-odd jurisdictions in the U.S. The Help America Vote Act, which passed in October 2002, allocates $3.8 billion to modernize voting systems across the nation. In large part, that modernization has led to the consideration of computerized voting. But although everyone agrees that punch cards must go, so far no one can agree on standards for the systems to replace them. The biggest bone of contention: finding a way to let voters check that their votes have been cast the way they intended. The solution, in fact, may lie with paper.
To develop standards that all voting machines would meet, the Help America Vote Act turned to the Institute of