Congress Won't Fund Paper Backups For E-Voting Machines

from the we-broke-it...-but-don't-expect-us-to-pay-you-to-fix-it dept

It was Congress that first mandated that polling places needed to start using e-voting machines a few years back, which has led to the ridiculously long trail of stories concerning buggy machines with questionable results and no way to go back and check to see how accurate the results are. It appears that politicians have finally been realizing that the lack of a paper trail (even if just to confirm the results) is problematic. So they're pushing states to make sure they use e-voting machines that also include a paper trail. But, when it comes to paying to make those changes, the states are apparently on their own. Congress has rejected a plan to fund the states in making sure a paper backup was available. Why? Well, as Rep. Vernon Ehlers says: "I think there are other methods of achieving redundancy" though he conveniently leaves those out. He then notes: "hand counting is not as accurate as almost any machine counting that I have seen." It's true that hand counting has its problems too. No one denies that. But the point isn't that hand counting is perfect, but that there's a way to go back and compare the results to make sure they're correct and accurate. Without that in place, we're simply relying on the machines to work perfectly, and we know that doesn't work.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Gregory, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 3:54pm

    Hand counting isn't that bad

    I dont know why people complain so much about hand counting. Having been involved in observing hand counting before it's almost difficult to screw it up. You separate the votes, removing donkey/invalid votes. You then separate these into countable piles. You count those piles, and then double check the original count. And then you work on preferences if it's not a clear 50% win (Australian system)

    Maybe America needs to look at other countries to see how they manage the counting of their vote, instead of trying to over-engineer the solution, introducing several new layers that can result in errors/corruption.

     

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  2.  
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    Dave Zawislak, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 4:01pm

    Reelect noone

    Both majority parties think it is to their advantage to keep the status quo, with the errors most likely favoring the incumbant.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Mark Murphy, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 4:06pm

    More to the Story?

    I wish he'd cite his source, but according to Dan Wallach, the issue was that "the Republicans wanted to attach a Voter ID requirement to the bill, and that gummed up the works." If it's true that somebody attached a voter ID rider to the bill, it's not shocking that would put it on the slow track, as Democrats have generally been opposed to voter ID initiatives, citing disenfranchisement.

     

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  4.  
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    Haywood, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 4:17pm

    I'd rather the Feds didn't "fund" anything

    Every time they do, there go your rights. They tax all citizens & accumulate the pile of funds in Washington, then; put conditions on giving some of it back.

     

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  5.  
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    CVPunk, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 4:29pm

    Re: Hand counting isn't that bad

    maybe you haven't heard... everyone is supposed to follow the almighty america, not the other way around. (ie: any government that does not agree with us, such as iraq)

     

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  6.  
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    dkp, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 4:29pm

    I like the old ones that we have or had in NY walk in flip a switch pull a lever paper record and the only way to mess it up is if a number is transcribed wrong but there is a paper trail.

     

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  7.  
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    John Q. Public, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 6:09pm

    Why should congress (tax payers) fund the correction of dumbass decisions made at the State level ?

    Did I get to vote for politicians in all other states ?

    I should be "responsible" for those I voted for, not others.

     

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  8.  
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    inc, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 8:01pm

    the states just need to throw the word war in the title... congress won't give you money unless there is some sort or war going on.

     

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  9.  
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    Powerkor, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 5:49am

    Even with machines that generate a paper trail has been proven 'hackable' (especially the diebolds)

    Voting could have been stacked in the past, still hackable now.

    You would think that they'd be able to design a hack-proof system of something so important such as voting... I guess to them, our vote isnt that important anyway, or they would have put more care in the design of the voting machines.

     

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  10.  
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    Alimas, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 7:29am

    Re:

    Hey, John Q. Ignorant Public.

    The national congress made the dumbass decision that the nation's polling stations should be moving to e-voting machines. Some states had already been making the move, but the national Congress passed the idea.

     

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  11.  
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    Matt Bennett, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 7:42am

    There's nothing wrong with the the states paying for things, and not the federal government. It's much more efficient.

     

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  12.  
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    ranon, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 7:47am

    How would a paper trail work?

    How would a paper trail work exactly? From what I understand, a piece of paper would be given to each voter. In case of a recount, how would you collect the paper votes from the thousands of individual voters later.

    An easier suggestion would be to create summaries of votes cast every hour or half hour as the case may be. This can be then checked against the number of votors during that period to avoid over-voting, or vote changing at a later stage.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2008 @ 11:32am

    Re: How would a paper trail work?

    How would a paper trail work exactly? From what I understand, a piece of paper would be given to each voter.
    No, that's not how paper trails usually work. A paper trail is usually just a printed paper record of the vote cast on a particular machine. These trails are often printed on a roll of paper very similar to the paper trail produced by an adding machine or printing calculator and are not given to the voter. In most cases though the voter can observe the paper trail before leaving the voting booth to ensure that their vote was recorded correctly.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2008 @ 11:38am

    Re:

    Even with machines that generate a paper trail has been proven 'hackable' (especially the diebolds)
    Paper trails don't serve to render voting machines immune to hacking but rather to detect when such hacking has occurred.

    I guess to them, our vote isnt that important anyway, or they would have put more care in the design of the voting machines.
    Oh no, your vote is very important to them. That's why they're so keen on finding ways to change it (such as these non-verifiable electronic voting systems).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2008 @ 11:38am

    Re:

    Even with machines that generate a paper trail has been proven 'hackable' (especially the diebolds)
    Paper trails don't serve to render voting machines immune to hacking but rather to detect when such hacking has occurred.

    I guess to them, our vote isnt that important anyway, or they would have put more care in the design of the voting machines.
    Oh no, your vote is very important to them. That's why they're so keen on finding ways to change it (such as these non-verifiable electronic voting systems).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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