Senators Boxer and Clinton propose "Count Every Vote Act"

Oh, the basis on which I singled out California is the fact that in the last election, 20 seats were on the ballot in the California Senate. Of course, incumbents won by more than 60% in all but three. In the assembly, 62 out of 80 seats got more than 60% of the vote.

In the first election after the 2000 gerrymandering, as I recall the only incumbent to lose his seat was Gary Condit, and perhaps one or two others (I’m not sure).

By the way, a friend of yours agrees with me.


Yes; as has been pointed out, it will disproportionally help certain demographics. I’d prefer advance voting. Make it a 2-3 day thing.


Yes. I don’t share them, but yes.

Yes. There will always be a way. Pols will always find it.

IMHO, a hardcopy paper trail is a pointless exercise that makes the system less, not more, secure. Anybody can forage a paper document (or many) and thereby add confusion to the situation.

There is a very straightforward, reasonably simple way of making electronic voting secure. Using public/private key cryptography you can make the system both anonymous and traceable/verifiable. You issue every voter an electronic card or CD with their public and private keys. Every voting station also has a public and private key set. You encrypt and digitally sign each electronic ballot with the voter’s private key and the station’s public key, and attached the unencrypted voter’s public key, which you use (along with the station’s private key) to decrypt and verify the ballot. Voters could keep their own keycard to verify their ballot was accepted, if you like, but the station need not keep a specific record of who got what public key, maintaining voluntary anominity.

As for the software, you could use a bootable Knoppix-type Linux CD-based distro on a hard drive-less computer configured to come up directly to the voting application, and use Gnu’s GPG for encryption. All code could be open source and keysigned to prevent any white.rabbits from influencing or sabotaging the balloting process.

This gives you 100% traceability (each vote back to each issued card), the capability to verify the votes and automatically tally results without any intermediate reading steps (or trying to figure out how much of a dent indicates a vote), and the balloting and communication process is, for all practical purposes, unquestionably secure. You can make the process (the software, the hardware, the public keys) as transparent as you like, and yet maintain assured security. Anominity can be preserved but individual voters can verify their ballots against their privately held keyset. The system would use cost-effective COTS (commerical off the shelf) components, so there’s little component development cost incurred and no proprietary vendors.

And you could do this for absentee ballots as well, over an Internet application (which I daresay virtually all foreign-based Americans have access to.) In fact, with the appropriate precautions for issuing and controlling the voter keysets, you could largely do away with having to go to a voting station and simply do it from home over a standard Internet connection.

Of course, there’s no big money in it for anyone, which means there’s no lobby group or special interest to promote it, and the details are probably far to technical for most politicians to get even a basic grasp on, leading them to fear the proposal, but there’s no reason this wouldn’t work, and there’s no added value in a paper trail (other than, perhaps, a printed receipt indicating that a ballot has been issued for Public Key #XXXXXXXXXXXX). This is exactly the sort of application that public key cryptography is idea for.

sigh How hard could it be?

:answers self: When politicians get involved, as hard as possible.


Etc. The point that you’d find similar re-election rates *nationwide * evaded you, as did the larger point that all these incumbents were re-elected because the voters wanted it that way. But you can whine about those mean old Democrats all you want. I take it you have no reply to anything else I’ve pointed out to you about your partisan ranting?

So? A point stands or falls on its own merits.

Paper trail: Good. The rest is a hijack of a fundamentally good idea, with varying levels of relevance and utility. I wish they’d stuck to the paper trail part and hence chose their battles more wisely. If they argue later that Repubs. opposed a paper trail, and leave out the fact that the bill was voted down due rather to more arguable terms, I’d say they’re playing the kind of rhetorical games I hate the most. I’m holding the Dems to a higher standard precisely because the Repubs. have proven, collectively, to be so bereft of standards. This is a basic good idea tainted by partisan politics and bitterness over the last election, if you ask me. If they kept the two separate, I’d be quite sympathetic. Tying them together sullies the former, which I happen to care a lot about.

For those reasons, or because Bush would not have won either of the last two elections if all of the citizens who should have had the right to vote were counted?

I suspect the latter. I also suspect that the more conservative a person is, the less support they will give to this measure.

Because what they want the government to do matters, Sam, exactly as much as your wishes or mine matter. That’s all.

That’s what provisional ballots are for – they can be used in case of any doubt, and the question can be resolved later. The CEVA provides for them.

And what about criminalizing voter indimitation? :wink:

Unless, of course, those provisional ballots are just thrown in with the rest of the votes and are counted without being vetted.

Won’t happen, you say? It just did in Washington State with some of them.

Sounds plausible in light of the news we’ve had of Washington’s latest election, but still – cite?

Or, we could just do it this way. From The Nation, 7/29/04,

A cheap solution (compared to what’s already been spent on the touchscreen machines), and hard to tamper with – it’s not enough to forge a fake ballot, you have to get it inside the box, which is not easy to do undetected.

Maybe I’m missing something here, but the only way a “paper trail” is going to make any difference is if you can round up all those voters (and their little reciepts) again to compare them against counts. I don’t see how it adds security or accountability unless you change the system to make a counted vote traceable to a single voter. Which is not going to happen!

Sam Stone, FWIW, what you describe is in effect in many polling places. The “get it together” problem comes from the autonomy of the states. Federal election law leaves some leeway, obviously. Heck, my COUNTY uses two different kinds of voting machines. We can’t even agree from city to township.

Wow. Not to be stereotypical here but do you live in a red state?

  • Honesty

I have no idea what the point of giving voters receipts would be. A good solution, IMHO, would be to have the computer set up as in BrainGlutton’s post above, but have the computer print out a scan-tron style sheet (or something else that is computer and human readable), which is then scanned and recorded. At the end of the day, the tallies from the computer and the scan-tron are compared. If they disagree outside the margin of error (what is the margin of error anyway?), the votes can then be counted by hand.

In earlier generations, felons might have a finger cut off, or a brand burned on their faces, to make sure they could never fully rejoin society no matter what they’d done. Some debts to society were simply never allowed to be fully repaid.

Perhaps simply banning someone with a felony conviction from participating in control of the society he lives in, even after completing all formal sentencing and restitution, is today’s equivalent in Jesusland.

I think some people here are missing the point of a paper trail: It would be kept by, and at, the Board of Elections so an actual recount could be done. No problem letting the voter look at it, and keep a copy of it, of course, but that wouldn’t be the ballot that counted.

I’m not exactly sure what you are referring to, other than the dearly held fiction that GWB is in office through some evil “neo-con” plot, rather than simply because more people voted for him.

smacks self in head All right. That makes more sense. However, I think you’re back in the same territory as far as ballot security goes, making all the same openings for error that made people want computers in the first place. Only a problem when one needs to do an actual recount, though. Maybe more than anything the paper record would be a deterrent to computer tampering, and a safeguard against being left high and dry by computer error.

Regarding, making Election Day, a holiday to encourage voting.-Would it apply only to presidential elections ,(every four years?), Congressional elections (every two years?) What about off year elections? Primaries? Run offs? I have a school board election coming up in the spring. Turn out for those is even less than November.

In any event we should properly fund the election mechanism so there are enough poling places so every one who votes can cast their vote in a reasonable amount of time. In and out in less than 30 minutes sounds good.

I have three words for you:

PC Load Letter

Anyone who things that a paper trail and the accompanying automated equipment will be more secure and reliable needs to spend a day-in-the-life of a Xerox technition. As for being tamper-resistant, any mechanical device is subject to tampering, as the average Caltech undergrad is well aware. An encrypted system, however, both prevents tampering and verifies the source of the ballot.

As for votes being counted/not counted in the 2000 election, give it a rest, will ya’? Both sides were trying to finagle what votes would be counted (and which ones wouldn’t) to give them an edge. The sad, sorry fact is that the result in Florida fell well within the bounds of uncertainty (given the technology in use) and while the result may have been repugnant it was as official as it was going to be under the circumstances. Going forward, the effort should be to reduce the amount of uncertainy and error, not harp on a cause that has not only been beaten to death but chopped, sliced, diced, immolated, thrown under an express train, dunked in hydrochloric acid, run through a ringer, and bronze plated.

It’s over, done, and gone. You might as well worry about Gerald Ford having not been elected to the office of President. :rolleyes: