Mmm. voting

2 11 2004

I voted today.
Massachusetts uses the optical scanning voting machines for folks casting their ballots. They have the advantage of leaving an undeniable paper trail (everyone has a sheet of paper), as well as instant registration and counting (they are scanned immediately and data is collected right there and then).
Can someone tell me why these are inferior to ‘touch screen voting machines’, which have no paper trail, and audit capability is completely out of the hands of the people running the vote for the state?
Everyone at a site running the optical scan machines can pick up the votes, count them, and say “We have xxx votes recorded, if you give me af ew, I can even tell you who.” I bet one in 10,000 volunteers at sites using touch screen machines could get any form of information from the touch screen voting machines.
I just don’t get it.

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6 responses

2 11 2004
liatha

Consider yourself lucky.
My polling place had the old fashioned manual curtained booths with the little levers.

2 11 2004
dbs

My polling place had the old fashioned manual curtained booths with the little levers.
I feel so left out, I’ve never even -seen- those machines 🙂

2 11 2004
Randy Smith

I believe the key issue is money, that if you use electronic voting and don’t have to carry a lot of paper around, that saves money for the jurisdiction that implements it. This may be one of the reasons why electronic voting folks are so strongly opposed to the paper trail; it removes one important reason to go electronic in the first place.
(N.B. Just ’cause I want to avoid an argument: I hate electronic voting machines. They strike me as the biggest threat to American democracy today. Yes, bigger than Bush. Yes, bigger than the extremely divisive rhetoric and divided electorate in this country. That has nothing to do with uith trying to understand why the sincere supporters are in favor).

2 11 2004
Jasra

I think I used one of those old fashioned ones once in NJ.
We have the scanners out in Colorado too. Very nice way to handle voting.

2 11 2004
dbs

I believe the key issue is money, that if you use electronic voting and don’t have to carry a lot of paper around, that saves money for the jurisdiction that implements it. This may be one of the reasons why electronic voting folks are so strongly opposed to the paper trail; it removes one important reason to go electronic in the first place.
Phooey, I don’t buy that. You still have to pay for the machines, the consultants who install the machines, the companies who license the software and update it, and the inevitable repair bills. This machines are -expensive- thousands of dollars apiece, and hwo much is the software maintenance contracts on them? I bet a heckuva lot more than the storage fees for a couple hundred thousand pieces of paper.
I really just want to walk into a polling station and pour water on one machine. Do they update to a ‘central server’ in realtime? If not, oopsie! Lost all the data on that one! And we have no idea who voted on it. Golly!

3 11 2004
Thud

A few things…
MA doesn’t use those ballots, though a number of towns (including Bolton) do. They do, unfortunately, have a record of spoilage, as people write X through the oval, instead of coloring it in solid; or they use their own pen/pencil/crayon, rather than the provided special-ink pen; or they don’t color enough; or they color too many (voting for the ones they *don’t* want)….
Scituate, where I grew up, uses the “complete the arrow” style, where you get the tail and the point, and just draw the line between. This has the same issue when the voter uses their own pen/pencil/crayon, but the other issues generally aren’t present (as everyone seems to understand that the arrow should point to the candidate/answer they want).
The touch-screens are *new*, which makes them more desirable, and their *computerized*, which makes them more trusted in the minds of the great unwashed (scary!)…. I don’t personally understand why some places chose machines with no receipt or other audit-trail generation (Diebold) vs. the other optioins (manufacturer names not known to me at this time). I heard of at least one instance of a person choosing a straight Democrat ticket, looking at their printout and finding Bush/Cheney selected (all other races were Dem), and getting that corrected — but I have no idea how many other similar stories there are out there, nor how many votes were incorrectly tabulated by the no-receipt machines….




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