Guy Who Insists E-Voting Machines Work Fine… Demonstrates They Don't

from the say-that-again-please dept

If someone pitched a movie based on e-voting machines that work as bad as the ones being used in the current election, the story would be dumped as being unrealistic. But truth is, indeed, often stranger than fiction. You may recall on Friday that we had a post about problems with e-voting machines in West Virginia selecting the wrong candidate when voters touched the screen. Various officials rushed to insist that there was absolutely nothing wrong. One, the local county clerk, Jeff Waybright insisted that the problems were “the result of voter error.”

Well, it appears that a group called Video The Vote went and visited with Mr. Waybright as he showed them how the e-voting machines work, and perhaps the “human error” is on Mr. Waybright’s part. The beginning of the video is troubling enough, as he brushes aside concerns while he shows a miscalibrated machine. He demonstrates how he clicks on one candidate and another is highlighted, in a tone of voice that suggests why would anyone possibly be upset or annoyed if that happened? He then oddly thinks the fact that his wildly miscalibrated machine enhances his point because when he clicks on Barack Obama’s name, the actual name highlighted isn’t McCain (of course, it’s not Obama either, but he doesn’t seem troubled by this). Waybright seems to think that the only complaint people are making is the fact that some tried to vote for the Democratic ticket and saw the Republican ticket show up — when the real concern is simply the fact that when you touch one name, someone else’s name is highlighted. Democrat or Republican really isn’t the issue here.

However, then things get worse. After mocking the idea that anyone clicking on a Democratic ticket vote would get the Republican ticket vote, he shows how to correctly calibrate the machine, showing how easy it is to fix the “problems” of the miscalibrated machine. When he’s done, to prove it works, he touches the box to vote for a straight Republican ticket ticket… and, wouldn’t you know it, Ralph Nader’s name is highlighted as the voter’s choice. His response? “Oh, that’s out of calibration!” as if it was no big deal, apparently missing the fact that he had just calibrated the machine. He then seems to think none of this is a big deal, because voters will see the misvote before they submit it, apparently unaware of the idea that many people are already quite distrustful of these machines, and seeing them highlight the wrong name over and over again will make them seriously question the legitimacy of the election.

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Comments on “Guy Who Insists E-Voting Machines Work Fine… Demonstrates They Don't”

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102 Comments
Ferin (profile) says:

...

Unbelievable. Why does anyone think this is somehow better tahn the damn butterfly ballots from florida? Screw instant results. Go back to a handcounted paper ballot system, monitored by both parties and independants, and make people get marked with permanent ink or something to rpevent extra voting. It sickens me to think that there are third world countries more capable of running an honest election than the US is.

noah says:

The guy obviously doesn’t understand his own machine. Nadar stayed selected because he had already selected him before selecting a straight party ticket. On a paper ballot, what is the protocol for someone who checks both the straight party box and an individual box? Bad UX maybe, but not necessarily wrong. His point about verifying that you made the right selection is valid. People routinely make mistakes on paper forms, so checking that your ballot is accurate is necessary regardless of the voting mechanism.

That said, these machines add additional ways to make a mistake, and not all voters will be completely diligent. Also, some will come to mistrust the machine because they don’t understand how the interface works. Paper/machine readable cards would be best since pretty much everyone can fill out a scantron.

AC says:

“Democrat or Republican really isn’t the issue here. “
Unfortunately it is.
Badly calibrated/programmed machines are a serious issue in their own right, but it completely obscures the problem when it’s painted as a partisan conspiracy.
It’s a major technical problem, and it’s being used as a reason to fan the flames of political polarization.

Anonymous Coward #42 says:

This guy is trained to tout the company line of bull that “there are no problems with these machines.” What makes you think he’s actually authorized to admit that their machines are broken?

The fact of the matter is that these machines have serious flaws, and should not be allowed to be used, especially in such a crucial election. Voters should not be expected to have to check and recheck their selections time after time after time. Also, if the machine really did work properly for all of 5 seconds as shown in the video, and then slipped out of calibration again, that means that techs are going to have to reset the calibration after every single use. That is going to be a nightmare of galactic proportions.

What I don’t understand is how these machines can be so flawed. I’ve seen plenty of touchscreen kiosk machines that work flawlessly (i.e. bridal registries, ATMs, and so on). Why something as serious as voting machines isn’t dealt with in the most serious manner possible is beyond me. I think this is just yet another sign that corporate America is corrupt beyond all reason, because they’re obviously more interested in preserving their reputation and profits than they are fixing a known problem. I got a news flash for you: quality sells itself. If you acknowledge and fix these problems in a timely manner, your company WILL have a good reputation, and your WILL be profitable. When you just try to sweep dirt like this under the carpet, your reputation will go down no matter what you do. Just admit your mistakes, fix the problems, and life will go on.

However, I’m still in favor of banning any and all kinds of electronic devices from voting stations. Anybody with half a brain can figure out how to put an X in the box besides thee name of their candidate of choice. If anything, we need some standardization on the paper ballots (no hanging chad crap), not proprietary electronic machines that just make the problems worse.

Tamara says:

Re: Re:

Anonymous Coward #42 – In Australia for federal elections every state uses the same style of form with the same rules. For state elections, the same states sometimes use different methods/styles. For each election all of the people voting have to follow the same system – the states don’t get to choose their own method in federal elections, but can in state elections. I don’t understand why in a federal election in the US, all states aren’t required to use a standardized form of voting.

Mr. Magoo says:

Why?

Why do so many states feel a need to use these electronic voted methods? Here in Oklahoma (yeah, we’ve already heard all your jokes and putdowns) they use paper ballots with a segmented arrow. You use the supplied marker to fill in the arrow next to your candidate, and then put the ballot in a machine which does an instant check to verify that you didn’t vote for more than one candidate. It’s easy to do; any moron can figure it out. There’s no confusion. It’s easy to recount. It’s reasonably cheap.

I’m an EE, and I wouldn’t feel totally comfortable about voting on one of these electronic machines.

We have enough problems with the political process in this country; accurately tallying votes should be a no-brainer.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Huh

Does anyone here understand emoticons? For those that don’t, the ;>) emoticon is a winking face. So when you see one of those after a sentence, particularly an inflammatory sentence, it is a good bet the person is making a joke. Of course the OP (original poster) is probably trying to get a rise out of people and often times it works. Such was the case here. ;>)

CSMajor says:

Re: Re: What IS the problem??

OK, so can someone tell me the problems involved in creating a reliable voting machine?

Can’t be the hardware — touch screens have been around for a long time. “Recalibrating” the touch screen should be a no-brainer — there are children’s toys that do that today. So it’s probably the software? If so, then this is a software design issue. How is a voting software more complex than software from retail Point-of-sale(multiple, overlapping discounts/promos, etc), internet stock trading, eBay, etc.? With all the cash these companies are being paid to come up with better systems, you’d think they can afford to hire top-caliber system (and usability) designers.

So maybe I’m missing something in my understanding of the difficulties here. If there’s someone on this forum who’s knowledgeable on voting machine issues, I’m sure we’d all like to hear it.

G Blake says:

Re: Re: Re: What IS the problem??

>OK, so can someone tell me the problems involved in creating a reliable voting machine?

Voting demands two contradictory objectives: count every vote accurately, BUT attach no audit to an individual voter. [Secret Ballot].

ATM/cash registers all survive on audit trails, tracking each transaction.

The best disconnect we have, with recountablity, is a paper ballot, be it “scancard” or hand mark, put into a box with all the others. It could be printed on the spot by a DRE, but the paper must be the ballot.

John Doe says:

Re: Re:

While e-voting machines should be simple enough to create given all the other touch devices out there that are much more complex and yet work properly; e-voting does create other concerns. The lack of a real audit trail is one concern. Paper ballots leave a physical audit trail though even those can be cheated. Someone with access to real ballots and the counting process could definitely stuff the ballot box. But e-voting machines at best provide a digital log file and we all know how (in)secure anything digital is.

Jim O'Hara (user link) says:

No, not out of calibration - error

So after he calibrates the machine he hits the large button for “Straight Republican” the screen filled out a bunch of check marks, one of which was Nader(!). That’s not a calibration error, that’s an error in the code – even if the other button (straight Democrat) had been pressed, Nader should have never come up check by default!

Sigh... says:

Re: No, not out of calibration - error

If you watch the video carefully, you will see that he already had Nader selected before he hit the “Straight Republican” button.
The checkbox for Nader did not move. Is that wrong? No. Is it a good UI? Probably not, but debatable… say someone wanted to vote straight Republican, but wanted to vote for Ron Paul instead of McCain. They could put in Ron Paul’s name, and then press the “Straight Republican” button to select the rest of the Republicans…

NSMike says:

Re: Re: No, not out of calibration - error

“If you watch the video carefully, you will see that he already had Nader selected before he hit the “Straight Republican” button.
The checkbox for Nader did not move. Is that wrong? No. Is it a good UI? Probably not, but debatable… say someone wanted to vote straight Republican, but wanted to vote for Ron Paul instead of McCain. They could put in Ron Paul’s name, and then press the “Straight Republican” button to select the rest of the Republicans…”

Yeah, the design should be, if you have selected someone outside of a straight-ticket vote, to say, “You previously selected Ralph Nader as your vote for President of the United States, and have now chosen to vote a straight Republican ticket. Do you want to change your vote for Ralph Nader to John McCain?”

Of course, expecting Diebold’s crappy programmers to think of such a thing may be stretching it. It may even be stretching it to think that all voters, especially elderly ones, would even understand what was going on when they got that message.

Anonymous Coward says:

The lesson of the Butterfly ballot

In the 2000 Florida election the problem with the butterfly ballot was that people thought they voted for Obama and actually voted for a third party candidate.

The video does not show that systematic an error rate because it looked like the errors were going every which way. Still, I don’t want an official who was elected based on who got the lucky breaks on the random calibration error bias.

NeoConBushSupporter says:

SO WHAT!

I don’t know what difference it makes, Hussein Obama and Nancy Pelosi and their liberal cohorts have already purchased this election with George Soros’s money (that he stole on Wall Street). They have had their friends in the media continuously bash the beautiful and elegant Sarah Palin, while simultaneously ignoring all of Hussien Obamas ties to terrorists and fundamentalist islam and now they are lining up to give 30 minutes of national air time to him so he can propagandize the American people into supporting his anti-American, islamo-socialist agenda. These radical socialist “redistribution of wealth” policies are going to hurt the “joe the plumbers” and “hockey moms” of this country and it also won’t be too long before the “jack booted thugs” of the ATF are knocking on the door to perform their monthly “firearm” search of your house. Unless we do something quickly, American as the land of the free is soon to be over.

VOTE McCain 2008 – The politics of failure have failed, together we can make them work again.

NeoConBushSupporterClarifyer says:

Re: SO WHAT!

For CHIST’S SAKES! Can’t anyone else understand paradoy? “The politics of failure have failed, together we can make them work again”.

Jesus people, this guy is an obvious troll who’s just playing around. People actualy like this don’t exist, and certainly don’t provide such snarky quotations.

Seeing all of this… STUPIDITY just makes me go RRRRG. Doesn’t ANYONE understand paradoy? Quit villifying the other side, they’re not that bad, they’re people.

I’m upset with you self proclaimed liberals for beliving that “neoconbushsupporter” is anything BUT an assumed persona. Real people like that, who talk like that, don’t exist.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: SO WHAT!

“I’m upset with you self proclaimed liberals for beliving that “neoconbushsupporter” is anything BUT an assumed persona. Real people like that, who talk like that, don’t exist.”

The problem is, thats exactly what they do say. Hes definately doing satire here, but using pretty much the actual arguements of the RNC.

Joe the Salesman says:

Re: SO WHAT!...I am concerned!

I agree NeoConBushSupporter, I’d take a Bush III over Marx II any day. Obama’s views on ‘spreading the wealth’ are frightening enough but his links to homegrown terrorists and islamic fanatics is absolutely insane.

However, the electronic voting machines are VERY concerning, Mr. Magoo from Oklahoma made a great point and the system they use would work just fine. Anything electronic should be thrown out the window, have you seen the confusion at the ‘self check-out’ lanes at the grocery store? It’s amazing, scan your bread and put it in the bag BEFORE you scan the next item….drrr!

McCain 08 – if you want my money, EARN IT!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: SO WHAT!

Dude, in Europe or in any country with true leftist parties, Obama would be considered a right wing zealot. Only in the US is he a ‘socialist’ and that’s because people who use that term have no idea what it actually means.

Never mind the fact that all your supposedly capitalist friends just nationalized half of the financial system.

Confused says:

Re: SO WHAT!

“The politics of failure have failed, together we can make them work again.”

So, does that mean that thepolitics of failure, having failed, we should all get together and make the politics of failure work again? I’m so confused. Make a policy of failing work, which is in essence, succeeding to fail. Your original statement of “The politics of failure have failed” means that it was a success! Huzah! I think this is what you were trying to say?

VOTE McCain 2008 to succeed with politics of failure.

d0n0van says:

http://www.google.com/patents?id=1sehAAAAEBAJ&printsec=abstract&zoom=4&dq=e-voting#PPA8,M1

The above link is to a patent search result from Google. I am not anti-corporation nor anti-profit; however, how do we balance the public’s need for government transparency and corporation’s need to recoup their investment in research and production?

While I want the company to earn money, I feel every citizen should have the right to examine every aspect of the machine’s hardware and software. Under the current system, I don’t believe that can happen because design flaws would be found. Hardware and software can always be improved and when that happens this company is no longer entitled to earn it’s profit because the end result really doesn’t belong to that corporation.

If we cannot see the hardware nor the software then how can I trust what is doing with the data? I ask these questions every day. I validate data. I examine the source, consider the methods of collection, storage, security, and I examine the sql code utilized to reach each answer. If I cannot ask the questions of my data or my clients data then how can I trust the results? I can’t and this is why I do not like e-voting.

One thought before I move along: This is the kind of process that the opensource community would be perfect to develop.

John Doe says:

Re: Re:

In this case, patents should not be allowed. These machines should be done like other government contracts where anyone can make them. For example, look at military rifles. There are a dozen makers of the AR-15 so no individual gun company controls the design. If companies want to produce voting machines, then they should be required to be completely open.

Anonymous Coward says:

You can go around and around and around

I never understood why Techdirt runs story after story of e-voting nightmares. But they do.. Look a Caltech-MIT project was formed to detail the types of errors that occur with e-voting. We are talking about a small margin of error here. Are there anomalies and irregularities in e-voting? YES. But it is a small percentage. If there is a major problem that occurs it will be due to failure to prepare and test equipment before voting begins. Comparing this in contrast to paper ballots the margin of error is very small. Personally I think e-voting is superior in many ways. While you could always make an arguement to minimize the margin of error I feel these machines are here to stay and should be. If you want to look at the report your may: http://pcworld.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://find.pcworld.com/42088

PROS: E-voting terminals can be more convenient than paper systems as well. When equipped with headphones and a Braille keypad, touch-screen machines let sight-impaired voters cast their votes without needing to share their choices with a human aide. Officials don’t need to supply paper ballots in different languages–voters select the language as a menu option. Results can be transmitted to election headquarters in seconds, and recounts are a snap since each vote is unambiguously stored in memory.

CONS: The Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project was established in December 2000 to study voting machine reliability and generate guidelines for future voting systems. The project’s 2001 report–still considered the definitive study of machine accuracy–found that in elections from 1988 to 2000, touch-screen (also called DRE, for direct record electronic) machines fared worse than paper ballots in many cases (see the project’s report here). But generally, their margin of “residual votes”–those thrown out because of error–was within the range of other voting technologies. In presidential elections, for example, punch-card machines had the highest percentage of residual votes, at 2.5 percent. Touch-screen voting machines were slightly better, at 2.3 percent, and optically scanned paper ballots worked best, at 1.5 percent.

MAtt says:

Re: You can go around and around and around

Officials don’t need to supply paper ballots in different languages–voters select the language as a menu option.

If someone is going to participate in our democracy they damn well should be able to speak the language. We have enough trouble interpreting our constitution written in our native language; how might it be interpreted once translated into a foreign language?

MikeyTG says:

Hey - Its the Palm Pilot

My old palm pilot had the same problem – the screen would go screwy, I’d calibrate it, and 5 minutes later it was bad again. Are they using that same old crappy technology? Probably.

It’s amazing we’ve had completely reliable ATMs for years, but brand new electronic voting machines don’t work. No wonder we can’t get back to the moon!

FiLeBaRoN says:

paper Trail required

While i agree that the new electronic voting machines are our future, they still require a lot of work to ensure they are functioning correctly, so there will be little to no issues in the actual operation of these machines. My only concern is lack of a paper trail. No matter how tight you write the code, the system itself can still be compromised. What a lot of people don’t realize is that it is mathematically impossible to write the “prefect program”. If you have a paper trail, any issue that arises due to poor programing, mechanical issues, or security, you have a hard copy of the tabulations available to ensure that peoples votes are recorded correctly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: paper Trail required

Here are some ballpark figures used as a benchmark (depending on what state your in) each machine has to pass before it used. If it meets this criteria it is deemed acceptable.

State and federal voting machine certification tolerate very low machine failure rates: no more than 1 in 250,000 ballots for federal certification and no more than 1 in 1,000,000 ballots in some states. Certification serves as an important screen: machines that produce failure rates higher than these tolerance levels are not certified or used.

Typically when software stands up to benchmark tests you can expect it to perform as intended. I disagree with your analysis that e-voting is not ready for use. If you want to throw in, “This could happen, that could happen, etc” you could apply that to any voting standard. Be it paper or e-voting. Your arguement that having a paper trial is the golden key to 100% secure flawless voting results is inaccurate. The MIT study above shows the ranges of technologies and how they perform all with very little margin of error. If a technology does not meet the criteria set by State and Federal regulations. It is not used.. Simple as that.

watcher says:

Re: Re: paper Trail required

If a technology does not meet the criteria set by State and Federal regulations. It is not used.. Simple as that.

I wonder if you were smart enough to change your IP this time, “Anonymous.” You’ve posted before with the same misinformation and you are doing it again. There are numerous cases where machines have failed all (not so stringent) requirement and were still allowed to be used.

Care to sign your name and company you are affiliated with?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: paper Trail required

State and federal voting machine certification tolerate very low machine failure rates

In theory. In reality, all we hear about are e-voting machine problems. They seem quite common.

Certification serves as an important screen

This would be the same “certification” that was later shown to have not involved any actual investigation of the machine?

This is also the “certification” that is not particularly rigid and has not turned up most of the problems found by independent investigators.

Sorry, the certification process is a joke.

I disagree with your analysis that e-voting is not ready for use.

I don’t understand this statement. We are pointing out serious problems with the machines, and you claim they’re ready for use?!?

If you want to throw in, “This could happen, that could happen, etc” you could apply that to any voting standard. Be it paper or e-voting.

No one has said that paper is perfect. But the damage that can be done from a bad e-voting system is much worse, because a single error can totally change the results of an election. A single paper ballot error effects a single ballot.

If a technology does not meet the criteria set by State and Federal regulations. It is not used.. Simple as that.

This is simply untrue. If only it were so, but remember that California found that uncertified code was used in many of its machines last election.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: paper Trail required

“In theory. In reality, all we hear about are e-voting machine problems. They seem quite common.”

There is no theory here. State and Federal regulations only allow so many errors to e-voting technologies. What your hearing are cooked up conspiracy theories. Not hard facts on how technologies are not passing certification. I will admit there are cases of human error. If certification procedures are followed as intended there should be no issue. Do you some states have poor certification procedures? You could argue that yeah. But that is a human issue. Not a mechanical one.

“This would be the same “certification” that was later shown to have not involved any actual investigation of the machine?”

You are focusing on human error Mike. Not malfunctioning equipment. Its important to distinguish the difference. Certification procedures vary from state to state. The human error involves not testing equipment properly not a mechanical malfunction.

“I don’t understand this statement. We are pointing out serious problems with the machines, and you claim they’re ready for use?!?”

Come on Mike, You are generalizing everything into some kind of consipriacy theory. Your title to the story is “A Guy who insists E-voting machines work fine.. Demonstrates they dont”. While there are obvious flaws in that specific device in the video. The only thing the video showed was someone having trouble with the calibration process of one piece of DRE technology. Based off of this video you are implying in your title every type of E-voting is flawed. I think last week you had a problem with backup. It would be the same if someone said, ‘Dont Blog on Techdirt! They have a major issue with backup.. Just look at this story!!… Would that be accurate?

We currently are using optical scanned paper ballots in my state and I am 100% fine with it.

By stating, “We are pointing out serious problems with the machines.” I feel you really are not fully looking at this issue close enough to make any kind of informed decision it.

“No one has said that paper is perfect. But the damage that can be done from a bad e-voting system is much worse, because a single error can totally change the results of an election. A single paper ballot error effects a single ballot.”

Just look at the Gore Bush election. Almost every ballot was disputed in some way. Almost all of that was on paper. You are only looking at a cooked up worst case scenario. Not a realistic depiction on how these machines perform. Excuse if I dont buy the, Chicken little says the sky is falling arguement.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 paper Trail required

There is no theory here. State and Federal regulations only allow so many errors to e-voting technologies

Yes, and of course the technology itself pays attention to regulations… oh wait, it doesn’t. The technology barely works.

What your hearing are cooked up conspiracy theories.

Lost votes in Florida? Miscounted votes in DC? Incorrect tallies in New Jersey? I’m not talking about any conspiracy theories, I’m talking about actual mistakes with the machine that are found to be quite common in practice.

I don’t believe the conspiracy theories, but I do believe the actual results will show that these machines have a tendency to not work very well.

You are focusing on human error Mike.

No, actually, I’m not. You insisted the certification process was wonderful. There is tremendous evidence that it is not, and the GAO condemned the cert process.

The human error involves not testing equipment properly not a mechanical malfunction.

No, part of the problem is WHAT the cert process tests for (i.e, not nearly enough to determine if the machines will function properly).

You are generalizing everything into some kind of consipriacy theory

I’m not interested in conspiracy theories. I’m interested in the act that time and time again it’s been demonstrated these machines are neither reliable nor secure.

The only thing the video showed was someone having trouble with the calibration process of one piece of DRE technology

No, the video showed how easy it is for those machines to be miscalibrated and to confuse voters — even “experts.” That’s a HUGE FLAW in the machines.

Based off of this video you are implying in your title every type of E-voting is flawed.

For six years we’ve given similar examples of nearly ever e-voting machine on the market.

‘Dont Blog on Techdirt! They have a major issue with backup.. Just look at this story!!… Would that be accurate?

If we had the same thing happen every day, then that would be reasonable. In EVERY election we keep hearing of at least some SIGNIFICANT problems with almost every make and model of DRE.

We currently are using optical scanned paper ballots in my state and I am 100% fine with it.

Like in DC, where every time they’re scanned a different result pops out?

I feel you really are not fully looking at this issue close enough to make any kind of informed decision it.

Care to enlighten us then?

H.R. Hughes says:

Election errors in voting machines

What bothers the hell out of me is that with all these errors compounded by the ignorant people in charge as reported, is that the errors will undoubtedly stand after the election is over. We had fours years since the last presidential election to solve the many voting problems that were reported.

Some problems probably simply did not exist and were reported by disgruntled losers. Keep recounting the votes until you find out how many you need to change the election your way, then produce the needed votes from somewhere, somehow.

As far as I am concerned, the election officials are criminally negligent in their duties and should have resolved and cleared up the problems a long time ago. There is no penalty for being incompetent in these positions but a lot of people should have to spend some time in prison for their failure to perform adequately.

We are losing our faith in the election process vote counting and someone other than the voter must be held responsible for this scandal. Acorn is a bunch of nuts and they are no help at all in maintaining the integrity of the election process. A bunch of them need to spend some time in prison in addition to the time some of them have probably already spent in prison. What a bunch of crooks!!!

Ken says:

Fabricated vs Real problems

Hack job video – For the truth, watch the full interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc9Gd5g3DFY

Pay attention from min 33 on for the details that were left out of this propaganda bs.

I agree that there have been too many errors with these machines for them to be reliable, but we need to focus on the real problems and not the fabricated ones. We have enough of that crap already.

The truth is not open to the democratic process.

Jason says:

Voting software...

There is no reason why all voting software shouldn’t be open-sourced. The data security mechanisms should be probably kept secret, but the actual software itself should be open to public scrutiny. These aren’t the governments elections, they are the peoples elections. It is absolutely our right to be certain that our vote counting mechanisms are as without fault as they can be in an imperfect world. I have no problem with knowing there are much better programmers than myself in the world. I’ve still caught things that they’ve missed. They’ve caught things that I’ve missed. The point is that the more eyes you have looking at a problem the better. Especially in software since there are so many things that can go wrong. Making a dot appear where you press your finger on a screen is a whole lot of code where a whole lot of things can go wrong. Tying that dot to a data field that’s going to get stored in a database along with a lot of other information is another place where a whole lot of things can go wrong. Combining that local data with a regional and then a statewide database adds more points of potential failure. In the real world we’d be outsourcing this to SAP for $50M and hoping for an election sometime in the middle of 2010. Sorry, but small business can’t solve this. They are trying hard, I’ll give them that, but they simply aren’t up to the job. It’s time to open up the process to the people who own it, the citizens of this country. We can’t afford to do the alternative right, in time or dollars.

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