Think Tank Bashes Paper Trails For E-Voting

from the missing-the-point dept

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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Filed Under: e-voting, paper trail


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  1. identicon
    Dave Johnson, 19 Sep 2007 @ 8:28pm

    It isn't complicated

    Use the touch-screen computer as an input device, and have it print a paper ballot that the voter looks at and then puts in a separate ballot box. Simple. This gets rid of all of the problems we have had in the past where people make mistakes - like Florida in 2000. Now we have lots of votes thrown out, but using the touch screen as an input device to print a paper ballot all those problems go away.

    And if we have a paper trail security doesn't even MATTER. Open source doesn't matter. Hacking doesn't matter. Because we can count the paper ballots that the computer prints and the voter checks.

    You can use the computer for a fast preliminary count, but the paper is there for a physical count. Since it is printed from a computer it is standardized and can be passed through counting machines.

    It's really so simple -- why do the voting machine companies resist this? They would make more money selling the printers. I have never before heard of companies resisting selling high-margin add-ons. Sheesh.

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