Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Paper Ballots

Monroe County, Pennsylvania, where I live, is in the process of replacing lever type voting machines with some as yet undecided or unannounced electronic voting system.

I agree with those wise people who advocate a return to paper ballots. They’re simple. They can be recounted and verified and the actual counting can be witnessed. There is no real need to automate this process and get votes counted in a hurry. A day or two more or less, though it would probably only add hours to the count, won’t matter nearly as much as another stolen national election. Here's a post by a guest on Eschaton

…As regular readers of The Sideshow are aware, I join with tech-savvy supporters of democracy everywhere in saying that there is only one appropriate means of making elections secure: Paper ballots, hand-counted on the night, in public.

Receipts are no use. A paper receipt can be emitted by a machine confirming that you voted for the candidate of your choice even as it tallies a vote for someone else or no one at all. There is no natural rule that prevents coding a machine to send one electronic message while printing out a different one.

For true transparency, you don't do anything that isn't visible to the naked eye, I want to be able to watch people counting ballots and see that they are tallying the real votes. I want the ballot I marked to be counted by another human being, watched by still other human beings, in the most openly non-partisan manner possible.

Receipts are meaningless unless there is a recount. You can easily avoid a recount by ensuring that your machines never allow the tally in a significant district to come close enough to trigger a recount. With no recount, no one ever knows that the receipts don't match the official tallies.

Machines can be fiddled, so don't let them count your vote. …

And this post from the same site
…One reason I don't think it's at all paranoid to suspect that the Republicans have deliberately taken over the voting system in order to cheat is that they keep doing things that don't otherwise make sense. There's a rather long list of things you just wouldn't expect them to think they could get away with unless they really thought they could control the ballot box, because otherwise they would have to expect that the public would kick enough of them out to not only end some political careers but also make impeachment - and prison - a distinct possibility….

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