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August 19, 2006

Today's Voting Machines Story

-- by Dave Johnson

Touch-Screen Machines Stir Election Anxiety in Md.,

Touch-screen polling machines, which will be used statewide in Maryland when voters go to the polls for the Sept. 12 primary, were intended to calm fears of election flimflam raised in the wake of the infamous 2000 presidential balloting in Florida.

But the new machines themselves have become a politically charged topic in Maryland. Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who agreed to purchase them three years ago, now questions whether they can provide fair and accurate elections, given their vulnerability to computer hackers and their lack of a paper trail to document votes.

[. . .] The Brennan report notes that systems without paper trails -- a paper record or receipt that voters can use to confirm votes -- lack an important countermeasure to software attacks: the ability to compare paper to electronic records.

They can talk all the want to about "securing" the machines, etc. But here is the problem. NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO, as long as there is no "paper trail" - a physical record of each vote that is CHECKED BY THE VOTER, then there is NO WAY TO KNOW if the machines were hacked or not. With no paper trail THERE IS NO REASON TO TRUST THE RESULTS of the election because no one can PROVE that the results are accurate.

Period, end of story.

Posted by Dave Johnson at August 19, 2006 3:04 PM

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Comments

Not paper trail. Paper ballot! Paper trail == election theft.

How many times do you morons have to hear this?!

Posted by: richard [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 19, 2006 3:25 PM

uh huh

Posted by: BadGimp [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 19, 2006 9:42 PM

Tell the Mexicans how safe paper ballots are.

Posted by: The Cosmic Fluke [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 20, 2006 8:24 AM

Paper ballots do not assure a clean election, but their absense assures the possibility of a stolen one.

The point has been made so many times befor ethat I've been leaving out the details. I assume everyone knows and is just lazy. It's quite simple. There are laws everywhere that regulate elections in terms of "ballots". If we allow these fucking crooks to make new laws based on something else ("paper trails") we are ASSURED that these new laws will be constructed in order to make elections MORE stealable, not LESS so. Recall who we are dealing with. What we need is strict enforcement of existing laws (concerning "ballots"), not new weaker ones. The only new law we need is to define electronic impulses as NOT BEING ballots.

Posted by: richard [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 20, 2006 1:57 PM

Florida in 2000 showed why we DO need better ways for people to vote than old-fashioned paper ballots. Everyone agrees that the touch-screen machines are easier to use and better to help avoid mistakes.

Also, there just are not enough poll workers for just paper ballots, so we need SOME kind of automation and computers are the best answer. (Seriously, how many of the people complaining about voting machines have volunteered to work at the polls, and especially to run for office on their local eleciotn boards.)

But they should ONLY be used as input devices, for printing paper ballots that can be CHECKED by the voter, and if necessary hand-counted. They are PHYSICAL PROOF of the results of an election.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 20, 2006 2:07 PM

But they should ONLY be used as input devices, for printing paper ballots that can be CHECKED by the voter, and if necessary hand-counted. They are PHYSICAL PROOF of the results of an election.

Yes, almost right. There's no reason not to use a computer to help you prepare a document. But the electronic impulses within a computer are utterly meaningless with respect to voting and should be legally defined as such. Counting these impulses has NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH THE ELECTION. ONLY COUNTING THE LEGAL BALLOTS DEFINES THE RESULT OF THE ELECTION. Once you allow counting the electronic impulses as having ANY LEGAL SIGNIFICANCE AT ALL, you are doomed.

The paper ballot is not a "trail" or a "proof" or "evidence" or anything else -- it is the election's legal ballot. And nothing else is. Anything less than ABSOLUTE clarity about this is an invitation for election theft.

Posted by: richard [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 20, 2006 4:19 PM

But then there's the personnel problem. There just are not enough people to count all the paper ballots. Also, the problem of time.

A solution is to require counting of a small percentage of districts - picked at random - by hand. If there is even a small discrepancy, THEN you have to count every vote to see what's up.

And, of course, if someone wants everything counted beyond that, they can just pay for the people to do that. No problem.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 20, 2006 5:17 PM

But then there's the personnel problem. There just are not enough people to count all the paper ballots. Also, the problem of time.

I don't know if it's true, but Thom Hartmann has said repeadedly on his radio program that the Germans count all their paper ballots. The counting is done by civil servants, not volunteers, as part of their government jobs. The counting takes a couple of days at most to arrive at the the legal outcome, while exit polls are used to announce immediate "results" to those with American-style mental disorders about time perception.

I believe that American citizens want their votes counted -- every one. The arguments you are making -- phony requirements for instantaneous results, inability of governement to do simple things like counting ballots properly, etc. -- sound to me IDENTICAL TO WHAT RIGHT WINGERS SAY.

Why don't you want all our votes counted, Dave?

Posted by: richard [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 20, 2006 6:40 PM

Thom Hartmann has said repeadedly on his radio program that the Germans count all their paper ballots.

I'm pretty sure that the Canadians do this as well.

Posted by: paperwight [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 21, 2006 5:55 PM

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