Its about time

Friday, December 01, 2006

Security Of Electronic Voting Is Condemned - washingtonpost.com

The recommendations endorse “optical-scan” systems in which voters mark paper ballots that are read by a computer and electronic systems that print a paper summary of each ballot, which voters review and elections officials save for recounts.

It’s amazing that the electronic voting systems have lasted this long. We all know that computers have problems. I mean, I’m a software engineer. I know better than most how buggy software can be. But still, we let the computer count the votes with no way to check the results? That’s insane.

Instead, we really should be using the system that this study recommends. You use a touch screen to cast your vote, then it prints out a piece of paper with your vote on it, which is both easily readable by you, and by the machine. You then stick that piece of paper into the counting machine, and you’re done. Yes, election officials have to make sure you don’t take the paper home with you. If that’s a big deal for your election officials, you need new election officials. This way, everything is quick because it’s done by a machine. But if you have any questions (Like the county in Florida that seems to have lost 10,000 votes or something in this most recent election), you can count the ballots by hand.

This system combines the best qualities of both paper ballots and electronic voting, and it makes it very hard to interfere with an election. At least, to interfere by messing with the votes. Messing with voters is a different story, but it can’t be helped if people are dumb.

Edited to add: A coworker mentions the problem here, that it’s difficult to change a vote. Let’s say you vote, and the card that prints out is wrong. What do you do? We don’t really want poll workers to be able to change the vote, or to be able to throw votes away and make new ones.

Maybe the machine will accept your old ballot, destroy it, and allow you to make a new one. If you destroy one without replacing it, the machine sounds an alarm that can be heard from space.

_NB: Any comments about Bush stealing an election will be marked as spam and deleted. _

Posted in: Anti complaint , Politics