ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A coalition of activists around the nation held rallies in state capitals to publicize their fears about paperless voting systems.
In Maryland, more than 100 activists demonstrated Tuesday outside the State House demanding that voting machines be equipped with printers before the November election.
Participants in the "Computer Ate My Vote" campaign said paperless voting systems are poorly programmed and prone to hackers, fraud and software bugs.
VerifiedVoting.org, which organized the campaign, said rallies were held in 19 states.
"We want a paper trail now, this November," Linda Schade, of TrueVoteMD.org (search), said at the Annapolis rally.
Donna Duncan, manager of the election management division for the State Election Board, said the machines used in Maryland have undergone more security testing than any other election system in the country.
In Tallahassee, Fla., about 20 activists rallied outside the state Capitol and delivered about 20,000 petitions to the Division of Elections (search).
"Computers don't work very well," said Tom Baxter, one of the rally organizers. "If you want to have something you can count, you need paper."
Florida officials officials insist touchscreens are far more accurate than older voting systems — such as the state's retired and much-maligned punch card system.
In Utah, about 50 people gathered on the steps of the Utah Capitol to ask the Voting Equipment Selection Committee to expand its search for balloting options.
A federal law enacted after the 2000 Florida election fiasco provides billions of dollars in funding for electronic machines.
Utah is among a handful of states that still use a mostly punch card-based system.
Barbara Simmons, a former president of the Association for Computing Machinery told protesters that officials should hold off on electronic balloting until more accurate machines are available.
"If I had a single message ... that message would be 'Wait,"' she said. "There's better technology on the way."
"We are unified in our desire to protect and defend our voting system," Madeleine Hervey, of Common Cause of Texas, said at a rally in Austin, Texas.