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February 10, 2006

Voting Machine News

-- by Dave Johnson

Huge: NJ Appeals Court Rules Against Electronic Voting Machines,

A suit filed in 2004 on behalf of Assemblyman Reed Gusciora by the Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Rutgers School of Law-Newark challenging the accuracy of New Jersey's electronic voting machines was initially dismissed by the trial court. Today, the Appellate Division agreed with the plaintiffs, and has reinstated the case.

... Nearly every voting machine in the state is electronic, but none of them provide a voter-verifiable paper trail. If the courts agree that rights are being violated and that the integrity of the election cannot be guaranteed by these machines, then by law, the machines must be scrapped.

Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at February 10, 2006 8:30 AM

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The thing about these voting machines is that their complete inadequacy to run a fair election is not a near thing. It is screamingly obvious. So you have to wonder about the motives of anyone and everyone who ever advocated for them or purchased and installed them.

I know that we are not supposed to assume malevolence when stupidity will explain human behavior. But these machines are so obviously and profoundly inconsistent with fair elections, you have no choice but to conclude malevolence.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 10, 2006 8:52 AM

There still seem to be a few truly independent judges around ..

Posted by: Helga Fremlin at February 10, 2006 12:27 PM

The Appellate court made the right decision. Unless and until there can be a verifiable paper trail attendent to electronic voting, it should not be employed.

Posted by: delftsman3 at February 11, 2006 1:24 AM

One good court verdict; but will it pass the Roberts-Scalito Star Chambers review?

Posted by: Kevin Hayden [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 11, 2006 1:48 AM

I have to post my obligatory lecture. Let's try it as a PowerPoint slide wannabe:



The voting machine must have the legal standing of an aid to producing PAPER BALLOTS. Nothing more. The PAPER BALLOTS are the only legal ballots. There must not be any legal standing given to "electronic ballots" or anything that is not a PAPER BALLOT. Get it?

Posted by: Anonymous at February 11, 2006 10:42 AM

Exactly right. Many of the ideas for "paper trail" verification are so stupid that one has to wonder if they are intended as chaff to divert implementation of honest voting reform.

For instance, the idea that each voter should get an ATM-style receipt that he/she can somehow check against a master list on the internet. Even a moment or two of serious thought should be enough to dismiss this idiocy.

Better is the version where some kind of paper tape is displayed under a window for the voter to check. Trouble is, this would in no way prevent the electronic vote totals from being hacked, even though there would presumably be an accurate record on paper. And unless an election is completely fraudulent on its face, it is unlikely that the two would be compared.

The same flaw exists in the optical scan system currently used in some parts of the country. In this case there is an actual paper ballot, with the choices indicated by penciled in ovals. These ballots are electronically counted and tabulated though, and that stage has been shown to be hackable.

No, the most transparent and verifiable system is still a PAPER BALLOT that is HAND COUNTED. A touch screen system could of course be be used to produce this ballot, which would then have to be verified by the voter before being turned in to be counted by hand.

Posted by: redkitty at February 14, 2006 2:20 AM

Hand counting can't work - there are not enough volunteers.

I don't see a problem with using the electronic reports for the short term, but carefully checking them against a certain number of random precincts using the paper records. A scrolling paper tape would be sufficient, but I think printing a paper ballot is better.

During the checking, if there is even a ONE vote difference anywhere the entire election has to be counted. AND a formal investigation of why there was a difference. Because there couldn't be a difference if the machines are working.

I think this would be sufficient procedure prevent fraud.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 14, 2006 8:17 AM

"I think this would be sufficient procedure prevent fraud."

Really? I'm thinking that the last three national elections should have taught us something about how hard it is to clean up a dirty election after the fact.

Posted by: redkitty at February 14, 2006 5:16 PM

All of Canada is hand counted in one night. It CAN be done if it's important to us. The site seems to be working better too. Thanks. Cheers, 'VJ'

Posted by: VJ at February 16, 2006 4:25 AM

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