A think tank has released a report bashing the idea of requiring paper trails for e-voting systems. The logic behind this uses some sleight of hand and some misdirection to make such a statement actually try to sound sensible. The key argument the group makes is that a paper trail would not increase security while increasing cost. That's actually true -- but that's not the point. People aren't asking for a paper trail to increase security. They're asking for a paper trail to make the machines auditable so the machine's ability to count accurately can be checked. In response to this, the think tank notes that the paper trail might not be perfect, so it's a waste. They point out that printers jam and the hand counts of paper trails may not be accurate either. That's nice, but again it's missing the point. Without those things, there's simply no way of knowing whether or not the computer count was accurate or whether the votes were tampered with. No one has suggested that a paper trail is the perfect solution to all of e-voting's problems. No one denies that paper trails potentially add other problems to the process. But the concern here is not in making e-voting cheaper -- but in making it better. Adding additional mechanisms to make the machines more reliable and more trustworthy seems like a reasonable step, though certainly not the only one that should be taken.
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