Other folks can bring up conspiracy theories. What I am more interested in is technologically, how are these optiscan and other assorted technologies faring? I just read a story on Yahoo! about a county in Ohio giving some three thousand votes to many to George Bush due to some computer glitch. And that is just one of many. I honestly think most, if not all, of the problems are human or technological errors and not some sort of nefarious plot. But it is troubling that there is no paper trail on these machines and that they seemingly can be easily manipulated. This article is illuminating:
Is ATM style voting going to become more and more common, modified, or will it be abandoned?
Don’t trust any system which cannot be audited for accuracy.
Here’s my opinion, as a computer science student.
I am 100% in favor of electronic voting, so long as it helps us avoid the problems posed by “Hanging Chads” and all that with the antiquated voting machines in many places. Not only that, it creates another possible avenue of employment for me.
However, I cannot condone the solution that was used in this past election. It is unacceptable that the transparent process of tabulating votes is trusted to a program whose inner workings are a mystery to everyone except Diebold (and, of course, whoever can hack into their corporate databases). Voting software must be open source and transparent in the same way that the old system was for there to be any net gain in election confidence and accountability. Currently, we have only exchanged the old problem of ambiguous ballots for the new problem of an ambiguous ballot counter. I fail to see the progress.
I’m not trying to say that anything bad happened with this election, or even that I think anything shady took place. What I am trying to say is that I don’t know for certain how the results were calculated, and that’s not good enough for me. I don’t think anyone should be satisfied with an election process that they are unsure of. Imagine if, after you voted, your paper ballots were mailed off to some unknown party, who would count them and announce a total, after which this unknown party would promptly destroy them all.
The Diebold count is probably accurate. I certainly don’t have any evidence to suggest otherwise. However, I’m displeased with anything less than total transparency with elections.
I’m in agreement with the others – have to have an auditable paper trail, otherwise the system is just too liable to be hacked. If not this election, then another, and once ANY kind of evidence of hacking appears, it’s going to throw the results of a LOT of elections in doubt, sans paper trail.
I’m surprised people are too stupid to see this obvious flaw in the system. Wait a minute, they elected Bush to a second term. I’m not surprised. It’s … consistent.
Electronic voting must be open. If you care, join the Open Voting Consortium.
I’m sorry, I thought optiscan was , in fact, paper balloting. Of course, maybe that’s just the name my county uses (perhaps erroneously?) but I’ve heard the term used for other sorts of “the machine will read your marks” scoring systems.
If that’s what you meant, then I think we have loads of information on that sort of voting system because it’s been in place so long.