Maryland Board of Elections Chairman Gilles W. Burger's July 1 letter responding to a June 18 editorial did not address the primary concerns with paperless electronic voting machines: the inability of voters to verify the accuracy of the recording of their vote, and the inability to do a recount or to audit the machine tallies.

Mr. Burger said that touch-screen machines allow increased accessibility, but this is also true with machines that provide a paper trail.

He said that "we manage the risk of machine failures" through testing and procedures, but machine error can never be eliminated, and the lack of a record that is independent of the electronics means that there can be no recovery when this inevitable failure occurs.

The "multiple storage mechanisms" Mr. Burger mentioned are meaningless, because the vote data can be corrupted by malfunction or fraud before recording.

The most amazing statement by Mr. Burger, however, was that Maryland should not consider a paper audit trail until specific federal standards exist.

When Maryland decided to purchase touch-screen machines in 2001, no standards for these machines existed. New federal standards, specific to these machines, were issued in 2002, but Maryland's Diebold machines have not passed testing against these standards. In fact, only one machine (from another company) has passed testing against the 2002 touch-screen standards, and that machine has a voter-verified paper audit trail.

ROBERT FERRARO

Co-Director

Campaign for Verifiable Voting in Maryland

Burtonsville