Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Electonric Voting System DOs and DON'Ts

Most electronic voting takes place on machines supplied by Diebold, which is run by people who contribute or have contributed heavily to the Republican Party:

That doesn't mean their machines aren't flawless, bug-free, and a great aid to our democracy. It just so happens, though, that many people have proven that their machines are full of bugs and security flaws. I believe that closed, black-box electronic voting systems that those provided by Diebold are a great threat to our democracy.

The problems encountered by these systems have prompted others, including the Open Voting Consortium, to press for a completely open and transparent approach - including PAPER TRAILS - when it comes to electronic voting.

OVC sent out this "dos and donts" yesterday.

Wrong way: Take the ballots into a room where few people can see or understand what's going on, then come out and announce the results.

Right way: Conduct the tabulation in public where everyone can see and understand what's going on, and the results are apparent to everyone.

Wrong way: Use software code that only certain people sworn to secrecy can review

Right way: Use software code that is fully open to public scrutiny

Wrong way: Make the system as convoluted as possible and force the public to just trust the officials

Right way: Make the system as simple as we can

Wrong way: Print the voter's selections on little curled-up strips of paper that make it difficult to handle them and count them (try stacking up your grocery receipts) and the law says are NOT BALLOTS anyway

Right way: Print the voter's selections on regular-sized durable paper -- called a BALLOT -- that can be easily handled and counted

Wrong way: Force voters with disabilities to use a separate system where they can't verify their ballot and which may compromise their privacy

Right way: Give voters with disabilities the same system as everyone else with a printed ballot that looks exactly like everyone elses ballot, and make it possible for them to verify their ballot.

If you are concerned about the future of our democracy, when it is so clearly manipulatable by these machines, I encourage you to contribute to OVC. They are building an open source voting system that is getting more attention from our elected officials.

Here are the details:

Press the PayPal button on or use OVC's Amazon account to contribute:

1 comment:

girlgeek said...

I studied the voting patterns in Ohio after the '04 election. Precinct by precinct, the higher the vote for Kerry, in the precinct, the lower the turn out. It was very spooky.

Certainly Avi Cohen has documented all sorts of things that can go wrong with voting machines - also beyond code problems.

As a get out the vote volunteer in Ohio I witnessed a very simple problem. Certain precincts were given an insufficient number of voting machines, and the pattern of shortages does not appear to have been random.

This whole matter is VERY scary. Thank you for bring it up.

Claudia Zeiler