In all of the discussions concerning the weaknesses with electronic voting machines, perhaps the most amazing thing is how hard the e-voting companies have fought against the idea of fixing many of the more obvious problems. While it's not a perfect solution, one of the more obvious issues, that has been brought up for years, is the addition of a paper trail. Basically, as the person votes, a small printer inside the computer would print the vote for the voter to review (behind a see-through window) and make sure it's correct. They would then confirm it and the machine would have a paper trail. Obviously, there's still the possibility that this could be gamed as well -- but it's better than the voting machine being a complete black box, as most currently are. When this issue was getting attention a few years back, everyone's favorite e-voting firm, Diebold, accidentally leaked internal emails from people suggesting that, if the company were forced to put in printers, they should charge a ridiculously high fee for them -- even though many of their machines already had a printer inside, to print out summary results. However, it looks like Diebold might not be able to joke about these issues much more. A bunch of e-voting activists showed up at hearings on Capitol Hill this week, and the amazing thing was that the Congresspeople in the committee meeting were clearly interested. The committee wasn't even supposed to discuss paper trails for voting machines, but they all brought it up -- with some noting how they've been hearing about this issue from worried constituents. While a lot of this is "theater," as the article notes, it's good to hear that politicians are at least listening to the issue, and not brushing it aside as some "fringe" complaint. Even better, is that it appears politicians from both major parties are concerned about it -- so it's not becoming a partisan issue.
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