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WI Assembly OKs Voting Paper Trail 197

AdamBLang writes "Madison Wisconsin's Capitol Times reports 'With only four dissenting votes, the state Assembly easily passed a bill that would require that electronic voting machines create a paper record. The goal of the legislation is to make sure that Wisconsin's soon-to-be-purchased touch screen machines create a paper ballot that can be audited to verify election results.' Slashdot has previously reported on this bill." More from the article: "Wisconsin cannot go down the path of states like Florida and Ohio in having elections that the public simply doesn't trust ... By requiring a paper record on every electronic voting machine, we will ensure that not only does your vote matter in Wisconsin, but it also counts."
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WI Assembly OKs Voting Paper Trail

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  • Good idea but.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Unfortunantly, this paper trail will still record your multiple votes if you live in Milwaukee.
    • by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `todhsals.nnamredyps'> on Saturday November 12, 2005 @01:21AM (#14013995) Homepage Journal
      and here are more or less the electoral fraud techniques used by the party in power for about 70 years:

      * "pregnant urns". Before the votes took place, urns were already filled with votes.
      * Operation "Carousel" - groups of persons voting twice, or more
      * Operation "Tamal" (a tamal is some kind of corn candy kept inside corn leaves). You grab two ballots and fold them, so now you vote for two.
      * Operation "Ratón Loco" (crazy mouse). Some guy steals the urns in strategic areas (specially where the opposition is strong) and disappears.
      * Vote rewriting. Before impartial organisms counted the votes, the people in charge would alter votes that were against the party in power, and nullify them.
      * Dead votes. People who had died managed miraculously to resurrect and vote in favor of the official candidate.

      And the most famous of all... (drum rolls, please)
      The system crash. In the 1988 elections, after all the ballots were collected, the computer counting the votes suddenly went down, and when the system was up again, the votes now favored the official candidate.

      After having to endure all these forms of electoral fraud, laws in Mexico became stricter to make the elections safe from frauds. These laws were promoted and approved, of course, by the opposition congressmen. One of these measures, was the inclusion of photographs in the voting credential (official ID). Another was having a designated area to vote according to your registered address. The voting areas are usually schools or museums, not farther than 5 or 6 blocks from your home.

      As a result of all these measures, we finally had a president from the opposition party in 2000.

      And it's kinda ironic that we have surpassed the U.S. (whom we had taken as model for transparency and democracy) because of U.S. problems like electronic voting machines, and because we use the popular vote and have more than two political parties.
      • That is a very interesting take on politics and the election "process" in Mexico. In other words, the neo(Con)artists and the Dubya regime have adopted Mexican political shennanigans. I cannot really say that I am too surprised -- nobody in the Dubya regime seems to have an independent or original thought between them. Even their use of foreign nationals to wage war, even against ourselves (in the cae of 9/11/2001), was a rehashed clone of earlier historical events.

        BTW: When (and if) you decide to come t
      • I had the misfortune to visit Saltillo at election time, some years ago. I was amazed at how jumpy the atmosphere was, knowing as I did nothing about the country. There was the episode when we had lunch in a restaurant where it turned out three opposition politicians were having lunch, and the people with me were debating whether we should leave in case the goons waiting outside thought they might be talking to the opposition, or stay and pretend not to notice them (we stayed). The most paranoid moment was
    • Voting multiple times works well in Madison also.
  • Ka-Ching! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Ossifer ( 703813 )
    The folks over at Diebold are happy to hear this--now they can charge a whole bunch extra for printers...

    Of course they may have to spend it on software fixes...
    • The folks over at Diebold are happy to hear this--now they can charge a whole bunch extra for printers...

      Actually, the printers will be provided at no extra charge. However, the consumables will be a different story. Diebold predicts that by 2009, ink and paper refills will generate 87% of their revenue and over 94% of their total profits. The remainder of the profits will be generated largely by sales of extended warranty plans.

    • now they can charge a whole bunch extra for printers...

      The printers are free. But the ink costs $1,000 per cartridge.
  • Too bad (Score:2, Funny)

    by gcnaddict ( 841664 )
    Its too bad this doesnt work on punch cards, especially with those "pregnant chads"
  • Good but not great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by katana ( 122232 ) on Saturday November 12, 2005 @12:51AM (#14013886) Homepage
    While this will help people put greater trust in the system by providing a paper trail, the core problem is still there. If you can commit fraud by altering a computer system, surely you can commit fraud by altering the part of the system that generates the paper trail, or by altering/switching the paper trail itself. This is a limitation of technological solutions to problems of trust and reciprocity. They always encounter the problem of infinite regress, where the technological solution to a problem (often a problem generated by a previous technological solution) is always able to be undermined. This is one of the arguments why DRM is doomed to fail (eg DVD Jon can always hack the next "improved" version of DRM). In this sense, electronic voting systems are much like DRM: an inevitably limited and imperfect techonological solution that gets in the way of an important process of trust and reciprocity.
    • How about giving voters the opportunity to verify their machine recorded votes (i.e. let them look at the printout)?
      • Pardon the bad pseudocode...

        if ($vote=="Candidate A")
        then record_vote($vote)
        else record_vote("Candidate A")

        The only way to ensure that this doesn't happen is to have the source code 1) available; and 2) reviewed by experts. Even then, it's spoofable unless the experts can verify at each stage of compilation and assembly that the code is unadulterated, and that that code is successfully downloaded to machines, and that that code is then used by those machines. Letting people see a prin
        • The REAL way to verify is to audit a random selection of precincts. Compare the recorded electronic vote count with the paper records.

          Select a group of 10 local voters, at random, and have THEM select 10% of the relevant precints to audit.

          • The REAL way to verify is to audit a random selection of precincts.
            Select a group of 10 local voters, at random, and have THEM select 10% of the relevant precints to audit.
            No. If you can select 10 local voters at random then you can select 10% of precints at random. Asking people to pick things "at random" isn't.
            • Having the citizens select the precincts to be autided introduces an abstraction layer. Otherwise....what is the selection process for picking the precincts? Some software that can be manipulated? There aren't THAT many locally.

              Citizens? Select all drivers licenses ending with 6. Shuffle so you don't get -0016, -0026, -0036. Start calling people until you get 10 to agree to do it.

              • Having the citizens select the precincts to be autided introduces an abstraction layer.

                No, it removes the randomness. You get 10 people who will pick their own precinct, the one next to them, the one where they work, the one their mom lives in, and etc. This is not random.

                Select all drivers licenses ending with 6.

                How do I know that 90% of the people with DL#s ending in 6 are your friends, and that they will pick precincts that you didn't ballot stuff? Your plan is not statistically valid. Put all the

          • by aywwts4 ( 610966 )
            Great link!

            (not to steal your thunder) For the lazy, and those who hate PDF's the relevent paragraph:

            The bill also provides that the coding for the software that is used to operate the system on election day and to tally the votes cast must be publicly accessible and must be able to be used to independently verify the accuracy and reliability of the operating and tallying procedures to be employed at an election. In addition, the bill provides that each municipal clerk or board of election commissioner
          • Excellent!
    • by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Saturday November 12, 2005 @01:06AM (#14013943) Homepage Journal
      The only solution to a paper trail that the public can trust, is to have the paper marked in front of the voter, and have it inserted into the ballot box in front of their eyes, so they can be confident that a machine isn't mis-marking their ballot, or discarding their ballot for another that's put into the ballot box.

      Punch cards are really a good way to do a paper trail, as it's visible to the voter, and if there's a dimple or pregnant chad it's clear the voter meant to mark that one. If there's more than one dimple, it's spoiled. In Canada if there's any kind of a mark in the designated area, the ballot is considered valid, it doesn't have to be an X. But if there's marks outside of the Voting O circle for the candidate, then it's bad, or if there's more than one marked. It's not rocket science, it's democracy. Diebold just gets it very, very wrong.
      • No not good enough. you have no wa of knowing that the machine isn't tampered with later.

        The only way to be sure is for each ballot to have a unique key that you tear off when you vote. Later you can use a database server of some kind (probably web based) to check that the vote stored is the vote you made. Obviously, people must also be able to consolodate their lookups by having the ability (but not the requirement) to inform political organizations what their key and votes were. Perhaps a unique subke
    • I think you underestimate the "next" improved DRM. Manufaturers now easily have the ability to encrypt the entire signal stream from the media all the way to the display devices. The only reason that DVD's were cracked was because that software was sold that could decode them under an "untrusted" computing environment that the user controls. Once this control is eliminated, it would be virtually impossible to hack. They may even design the decryption IC's to self distruct if an attempt to open them is made.
    • As originally introduced, Representative pocan took my suggestion of publicly viewable code. As amended in Committee, we got something less desirable, but adequate.

      Analysis from the Legislative Reference Bureau

      ..provides that if an electronic voting machine is used at a polling place, the board of canvassers must perform the recount using the permanent paper record showing the votes cast by each elector, as generated by the machines.


      The substitute amendment also directs the Elections Board to pro

    • If you can commit fraud by altering a computer system, surely you can commit fraud by altering the part of the system that generates the paper trail, or by altering/switching the paper trail itself.

      The introduction of difficulty (and complexity) creates a de-facto checks and balances system. Accountability is a core value of patriotic Americans, and as such, having an auditable trail is fundamental.

      The right to/ability to/integrity of/ the voting process is the deepest core of our country (as our founders
  • by Deathbane27 ( 884594 ) on Saturday November 12, 2005 @12:51AM (#14013889)
    I assume that after the vote is cast, the voter can view the receipt. That way they can make sure their vote registered (no more dimple or chad issues). Also, if there's a discrepency between what you actually voted and what the receipt says, you can take it to the election judge.
    • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Saturday November 12, 2005 @01:05AM (#14013933)
      Yes. Usually, the paper copy of the ballot feeds up behind a plastic window, allowing the voter to view the receipt for accuracy. When they indicate that they are satisfied that the ballot is correct, the machine then automatically feeds the ballot into a box. The paper ballots can then be used if there is doubt as to the accuracy of the electronic vote tally kept by the machine.

      • Of course, who knows how many votes print into the box after everyone's done voting for the day.
        • Where I'm from, they get signatures from everyone voting in a book. If the signature count doesn't match the total votes, something's gone wrong. So at least automated fraud is trickier. The people running it could still sign in for people that didn't show up and vote for them, but no more so with an electronic system than an manual one.
  • CE? (Score:2, Funny)

    "And best of all, the next system is built from a modified version of Windows CE to ensure all votes are counted."

    Oh...nevermind. I made that up. ;P

  • Now If Only.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheFlyingGoat ( 161967 ) on Saturday November 12, 2005 @12:52AM (#14013896) Homepage Journal
    This takes care of one issue. Now they need to start requiring a photo id to vote. A couple of state politicians have presented plans that would work, including ones that provide free photo ids to anyone who doesn't have a driver's license. People who didn't have a photo id when they went to vote would still be able to cast their vote, but it would be flagged in case of a recount. The vote would be unflagged if the voter provided a photo id at any point after the vote.

    It makes sense, especially when there were many cases of voter fraud in Milwaukee during the 2004 election. Many votes were cast from addresses that don't exist. Granted, a photo id won't solve all the issues with voter fraud, but neither will a paper trail. Both are still a step in the right direction.
    • Re:Now If Only.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by bitingduck ( 810730 )
      The vote would be unflagged if the voter provided a photo id at any point after the vote.

      Except then you no longer have secret balloting if you can connect people back to their votes after they've been cast.
      • Re:Now If Only.. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dachannien ( 617929 )
        The balloting at my polling place isn't any more secret. I have to register beforehand, and then when I arrive, I have to give my name and sign a voter roll before I cast my ballot. There's even a number on the top stub of the ballot that matches a number they write down in their records. The only time that my identity and my ballot are separated are at the very end, when the poll worker tears the top stub off the ballot and drops the rest of the ballot into the box.

        And since it's generally illegal to vo
    • Re:Now If Only.. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Krimszon ( 815968 )
      Do I understand this correctly: After three years of fighting terror, US citizens are not required to have or carry photo id? So how do these people get anything done, like open a bank account, get membership at a video rental place, or vote?
    • Re:Now If Only.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NardofDoom ( 821951 )
      The idea that there are tens of thousands of people that go to other districts and vote is just wrong. The majority of voter fraud isn't caused by people voting twice, but by people inside the system altering the results.
      • One local mayoral race was determined by under 10 votes. I'm not saying there are tens of thousands of fradulent votes. I'm saying there are definitely a few hundred (see the other poster's link about more votes than voters). In addition, the current voting system in Wisconsin leaves very little room for people to alter votes. We use those nifty ballot scanning machines and double records to ensure each vote is cast only once and cast properly. I'm sure there are some issues with it, but they're much h
        • If there is a problem with people voting twice, why not do it the Iraqi way? Purple ink that disappears in a couple days provides a way to identify who voted and who didn't without any action on the voter's part. No need for ID or anything like that.
  • by chriswaclawik ( 859112 ) on Saturday November 12, 2005 @12:57AM (#14013914)
    ...everybody knows that votes on paper can never be tampered with.
    • But for physical things, at least the evidence is harder to get rid of. What evidence do you have of a bit flip? Also, with both an e and p trail, you can check them against each other. It may be more dificult to figgure out which one is wrong if there is a discrepancy, but at least you'll know to look for a problem.
    • everybody knows that votes on paper can never be tampered with.

      Traffic signalling systems use an electronic conflict detector, in addition software conflict detection. This is to ensure that the system can not display crossed green signals.

      As a last stage safety measure, the relay which enables green for (say) south, also switches off green for east.

      My point is that where you want to be absolutely sure of the behavior of a system, it pays to mix different technologies. Perhaps having three totally differ

      • Kentucky has announced a system whereby electronic voting machines will eject a toothpick into one of two piles, and afterwards, Rain Man will be hired to count the votes in each pile.
  • The OSCE has done it before, they have experience and manpower to do this. I say let them survey the next elections in the US. Ironically the US go to war allegedly to bring democracy to other countries.
  • technophilia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Saturday November 12, 2005 @01:33AM (#14014037) Homepage Journal
    what we need is simplicity when it comes to voting, not complexity. i believe we should never go to electronic voting, and even get rid of mechanical voting booths, which has a sordid history of tampering

    fraud happens in all forms of voting mechanisms, and voting is just too much of an important and vulnerable part of our social cohesion and the source of so much faith in and integrity of our government. being so vital and vulnerable, the point in my mind would be to oversimplify the voting process on purpose. the more complex the system, the more points of failure and the more possibilities of fraud. so make the process very simple: paper ballots

    i mean seriously, why the technophilia? voting is a problem that is not solved better with more technology, just made more complex. paper ballots i say. the slashdot crowd of any crowd of people should know all about the various and sordid ways malfeasance can be achieved in electronic communication and electronic storage. voting is not a complex math problem. it's very simple. no computer need apply

    the slashdot crowd, as technophilic as it is, should know better than any crowd of people why electronic voting can be a downright scary prospect. don't mess with it, simplify it, which means avoiding computers in the voting process like the plague. i'm not a luddite, i am simply saying that specifically in reference to the voting process, it must be simplified technologically to ensure faith and integrity in our government
    • i mean seriously, why the technophilia?

      You're right that technology makes accurate voting harder rather than easier, but we also have this culture that wants instant results.

      The combination of electronic machines that produce a human (and maybe machine) readable paper ballot that the voter verifies gives you both. The electronics count the votes on the fly and give you a preliminary result, then the paper ballots are the official votes and used in case a recount is needed.
      • reading all the blasted things requires a machine

        of course, the reading machine is a source of fraud and failure right there, but i don't want 100 old ladies tabluating precincts for four months, so automatic reading becomes unavoidable. scanning a bunch of paper ballots might take a few hours, while tabulating a database might take a few minutes, but hours versus minutes is a tradeoff that SHOULD be palatable to people. even though we both know somebody somewhere will be impatient, but fuck them, they can
        • reading all the blasted things requires a machine

          A machine will make it a little faster, but it's not required. With machines counting what amount to scantron sheets, we start getting returns as little as a few minutes after the polls close. With paper counted by humans it might take a few hours, but you can still have pretty complete results in the morning.

          Canada, which has a population similar to that of California, still uses paper for federal elections. They're counted by pairs (or more if their are
          • For a regular November election in the States we may be filling 20 -30 offices, plus a referendum or 4, or 15 in California or Oregon, so hand counting's not so simple. If you pass the paper ballots to pairs of humans each counting a distinct office, you end up with "Did i count that stack yet?" Canada doesn't map.
            • Beats me how many offices in one election in Canada, maybe a half dozen for the federal elections. I live in California.

              Do we really need to have full results the next morning on all the minor offices on every ballot? If yes, then a paper ballot that is both human and machine readable (as I mentioned a few posts up) would allow for both. You can get them all counted by machine in a few minutes, but you can also count them by hand if anybody decides it's necessary.

              The ballots we use in LA County are to so
    • what we need is simplicity when it comes to voting, not complexity


      The elections in Sweden uses paper ballots that you put in envelopes. Usually, very accurate preliminary results are available just some hours after the election is closed. And the counting is done by people, not machines. I would say that the public trust in the election procedures is very high although there have been cases of cheating (a case when a party person "helped" mentally handicapped people to vote).

      In the Swedish elections, y
    • Done properly, electronic voting could be a good thing. An electronic voting machine can easily be made accessible to people who are physically handicapped, blind, or speak a language other than English. Ideally, the machine used by the voter should present their options in a clear intuitive way, then print a paper ballot and give it to the voter. The voter should then be able to review their vote, and if they see a problem, get a new ballot. After the voter has verified their ballot, they feed it into
      • but you didn't address what i was saying: more complexity=more chance for fraud

        additionally, my way is also cheaper

        handicapped, blind, spanish speaking?

        i believe large print paper ballots, braille paper ballots, and spanish ballots address all of your concerns, and again, a lot cheaper and less error/ fraud prone

        so what do you value? more trustworthy, cheap, but slow?

        or more error/ fraud prone, more expensive, but fast?
        • but you didn't address what i was saying: more complexity=more chance for fraud

          At what point are you suggesting an increased risk of fraud is introduced? The first machine, which prints the ballot? The ballot is human-readable, and voters will be encouraged to review it. If the first machine doesn't print the right thing, the voter should notice. Of course errors could be missed, but if the machine runs open source code [sourceforge.net], well, that's a step in the right direction.

          As for the second machine, it's still a
          • if you have a system with 10 gears, and you have another system with 100 gears, the one with more gears has more places it can fail or be sabotaged on purpose

            if you have a voting system with electronic communication/ storage, the myriad ways in which it can fail or be purposely altered are orders of magnitude more varied than with simple pencil and paper

            do you understand the concept?

            it can never, ever possibly be less error/ fraud-prone

            it is a simple matter of increasing complexity
            • Ah, but the question is, do electronic voting machines add gears, or replace gears? And are the gears they're replacing more error/fraud-prone than what they're being replaced with? If votes are counted by a machine that works perfectly, the results will be more accurate than if a group of humans were counting the ballots manually...
    • i mean seriously, why the technophilia?
      Choice - only two parties but sixteen different ways to vote.

      Lobby money would have to do the rest - someone must have been paid a lot of money to accept some of those Diebold machines.

      Also there may be some horse judges in high positions dealing with electoral process - things like the Florida debarkles in the last two elections made the USA a laughing stock in other democracies.

    • Yeah, but the problem with paper votes is that they are easily fraudable. All I have to do is have my vote counters damage the ballots of my opponent and they will become rejected. I can do this in any way, by making an extra mark (voting twice invalidates), by accidentally ripping one, etc.

      The powers that be that are arguing against electronic voting are basically arguing to keep the old games in check. They will use the paper trail to trump the more accurate results of the machine and have something to
  • Who voted against it and why? That is to say, who was bribed and who was bribing?
  • In any decently-sized business in the financial services industry, it is generally corporate standard to have audit trails for any non-trivial work that is done.

    For example, software that is more than 50-100 LOC and not written as a "one-off" app generally must be documented with a project proposal, requirements, design, and testing docs, and so forth. It depends on the size, scope, business need, computing environment impact, etc. of the app, but other documents -- such as a cost/benefit analysis, archite
  • In other news, Gov. Jeb Bush has signed a contract with Diebold for a system that can provide an electronic audit trail for Florida's paper ballots. Gov. Bush said "This is a great day for democracy. We will now have the capability to handle vote recounts in a fraction of a second."
  • Someone passed common sense through this god forsaken state.
  • We're so busy celebrating this, what of other states?
  • What about electronic scanning of paper ballots. I remember in college some of my libral arts courses had massive amounts of students and we would take our multi-choice test on ScanTron cards. I don't see what would be so hard about putting a stack of cards through a reader. The voter would know that there vote is recorded on the card correctly, the counting would be quick and not error prone. All we would need to do is check the source code and we could all be happy, happy voters. Why not?
  • "we will ensure that not only does your vote matter in Wisconsin, but it also counts."

    Sorry, but they may be able to guarantee only the last part of the statement. Voting is a way of reducing a big number (the votes) to a small number (the elected). As this reduction factor is usually in the order of thousands (local) to even milions (presidential elections), the chance that your vote has any effect is likewise one in thousands to milions. Democracy is a way of deluding individual people that their single v
  • If they were truly serious they would also require photo id's to vote, and eliminate same day registration.
  • by scottsevertson ( 25582 ) on Saturday November 12, 2005 @04:38AM (#14014479) Homepage
    Any paper trail is worthless unless each voter is able to verify the printed record, *AND* the printed record is considered equivalent to any other vote. The Wisconsin bill only requires that a paper record be produced, not that the voter can see it. Why is this so important? Because of the FEC source code review clusterfuck.

    HAVA [Help America Vote Act] gives the FEC governance over electronic voting, including establishing source code review procedures for all machines used in a Federal election (read: all voting machines). However, there are so many flaws in the FEC review procedure that it's downright scarry.

    1. Coding standards more concerned with technical compliance than correct function. Turns out, the coding standards say more about the correct format of a "for" statement, or the appropriate amount of boilerplate documentation per method, than they do about defining correct operation, error tollerance, or anything else.
    2. FEC code review doesn't cover "libraries". Want to include malicous code that only kicks in on the appropriate date, with sufficient voting volume to bury aberation in the noise? Throw it in a library, and use it in the project. Want to be really sneaky? Rebuild an open source library, or some external piece like a database driver or print driver with your malicous code.
    3. Fudging alowed in FEC testing. System can't stay stable enough to run 100,000 votes sequentially on a single machine? Throw in automatic application restarts at a set interval into your test harness backend; test harness code isn't reviewed.
    4. No enforcement procedure to verify reviewed code is the code running on election day. Not even checksums are required to verify compiled libraries/assmblies/executables are the same as the day they were submitted for review.
    5. Reviewer incompetence. FEC reviewers may not be familiar with the language being reviewed. One claimed unequivocally that "length" was a Java keyword, and as such, couldn't be used as a variable name (a glance at the Java spec confirms his mistake). Why? Since it was used without parens like a method call, it must be a keyword.
    6. Bogus documentation passes inspection. Don't have all the required class/method/variable documentation for the 2002 standards? Write a comment generator, fix it up a little by hand, and you're set!

    OK, so the coding review and coding standards suck. What's that have to do with the voter verifiable paper trail? Everything. Unless the voter can visually check the ballot (and ideally should have to "sign off on it" before the electonic vote is committed), what's to stop hidden/poorly reviewed code from altering the printout *AND* the electronic vode database?

    What about the paper receipt being equivelent to a traditional paper ballot? Some voting legeslation only allows the paper ballot to be used for verification, not as a true ballot. So, while you may recount the paper trail, the numbers from the recount are not legally votes, and cannot be used to change the outcome of an election (a fact that would be gleefully used by the conveniently "winning" side in a contested election). The Wisconsin bill does not specify in this matter.

    How can we do better? Take a look at the procedure recommended by the Open Voting Consortium http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/>. The *primary* representation of a vote is the printed paper ballot, with a machine readable representation output beside the human readable representation. After voting concludes, each paper ballot is scanned, and compared to the electronic count.

    By the way, hope your voting machine vendor has valid source control procedures (like not using a single account for all checkins?), so a malicious contractor can't check in random changes to the code base/libraries. [Evil laughter...]
    • Sorry, missed the latest revision:

      Previously: ...generates a complete paper ballot showing all
      votes cast by each elector at the time that it is cast
      Now: ...generates a complete paper ballot showing all
      votes cast by each elector that is visually verifiable by the
      elector before the elector leaves the machine

      Previously: ...and that enables a manual recount
      Now: ...and that enables a manual count or recount

      The new text confirms visual verification *and* equal validatity with other ballots (otherwise, the paper r
  • Finland has ~5M ppl and uses paper ballots that are counted by hand in a matter of days. Why can't US cities and counties of similar size use this old system? Just scale up the number of people doing the counting.
  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Saturday November 12, 2005 @09:43AM (#14015030) Journal
    As if to show why a paper trail is necessary for voting, this past election day in a County near me a district had an issue where the electronic machines were incorrectly coded for one area. This link [cumberlink.com] is the only one I could find quickly but it has all the information.

    When the original count was done the results showed that the Republican candidate had won by a 173 vote margin. However, someone noticed that the Republican candiate was coming in as a Democrat in this one district so anyone who voted a straight-party democratic ticket was inadvertently casting votes for the Republican candidate.

    A hand recount was ordered and after the recount it was found that the Republican candidate had a 2 vote margin (not in the article but the local news has stated this). This isn't the end though. The provisional ballots still have to be counted.

    Maybe in the end the Republican candidate will still win but had a paper trail not been available, and someone sharp enough to notice the discrepancy, a recount would have been nearly impossible using only the computerized records.

  • There also needs to be a consistent and reliable way (technological or procedural) to make sure that the votes cast on the machine are cast once and only once by a living, breathing legal citizen of the United States who is eligible to vote.

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik