Electronic Voting Machine

ElectronicVotingMachines are probably inevitable (at least in the USA), so, at least it should be done in the best way possible. In the spirit of democracy and FreedomOfInformation this would definitely be OpenSource. However, a well laid out paper ballot with fill in circles that gets run through an optical scanner for quick tabulation is currently the best system we have in the US. Why are they inevitable?

ElectronicVotingMachines are probably inevitable. Meaning they are being pushed heavily by misguided politicians and companies like Diebold who can smell a profit miles away. The point here is that technologists/engineers/programmers should "probably" be ready to combat some hidden, proprietary, unverifiable, unreliable, inaccurate system that the greedmongers and their lobbyists convince the politicians (usually greedmongers themselves) to embrace. One way to do this is to be able to say "here's a system that works and any red-blooded American (or foreign) programmer can read the code and verify the fairness/reliability/etc. Another way is to campaign for ElectronicVotingMachines to not be used at all. Both methods would ideally be employed simultaneously. -- Worried

[There is also the Help America Vote Act. This bill does not mandate the use of electronic voting machines, but it all but spells out who is going to make a killing from of the sales of these things. Welcome to American high power politics.]

I frankly don't understand what the matter is with paper and pen. In Australia we only have to count 20 million votes in an election, but still this works fine. We usually have a result within 24 hours. If a recount is called it's usually completed within just a couple of days. Why do you Americans need any kind of "machine" to vote at all? --PeterMerel.

Same for the U.K., with ~25 million votes. -- DavidSarahHopwood


Semi-plausible reasons: Don't be silly. The voting machines are in no way tied to any particular policitical party. Not even the political party that pays for them?

Semi-humorous non-sequiturs:
Ah yes. . . A voting public that is told how to vote by their churches, Fox News, CNN, hyper-left and hyper-right wing media and television goes out and uses unaccountable, unverifiable electronic voting machines to vote for one of two nearly identical candidates that aren't even elected by popular vote, or even by electoral vote anymore, but simply by 9 people. Critics are dismissed as moral degenerate unamerican luddites and sent to <location removed for national security purposes>. Why should we be worried?

It's having to choose between someone you know does a bad job and someone you suspect will do a bad job. [So when is the last time that wasn't true?] - The last election. . . I don't have high hopes for the future as long as "knee-jerk carpet-bomb" is the canonical response.

<How about voting for who you want to win, even if it isn't one of the major two parties. We have a two party system because of people voting for who they think can win rather than who they want. If everyone voted for who they wanted to win, we'd have a third and fourth party in no time, so help the cause and quit thinking your vote is wasted if you don't vote Democrat or Republican. A vote for a third party candidate is not a wasted vote, even if he doesn't win, because in the long run, it'll create a three or more party system.>

Actually (and sadly), the two parties are all but built into the system due to the use of PluralityVoting?/FirstPastThePost to elect a president of the United States. Under this system, a vote for a third party is not just wasted but is actually against your best interests if it helps a candidate you dislike take office (the 2000 elections for example). If the United States were to adopt something like AcceptanceVoting or CondorcetVoting? we might actually see more than two viable parties. But until that time citizens of the USA are stuck with TacticalVoting. www.electionmethods.org has more information on this, as do many pages on this wiki.

"The Infamous Butterfly Ballot" in Palm Beach:

A large number of voters, intending to vote for Al Gore followed the horizontal line at the top of his box and punched there, rather than punching the hole next to the arrow. Their votes were counted for Pat Buchanan - as his arrow, on the facing page, lined up with Al Gore's top "separating" line.

See pictures at this site: http://cagreens.org/alameda/city/0803myth/myth.html

Pat Buchanan himself said, "I would say 95 to 98 percent of [the votes] were for Gore." IE: Pat Buchanan insisted that at least 95% of the votes cast for himself were really intended by the voters to be votes for Gore.

Windows should absolutely not be used as a foundation for a verifiable electronic voting machine, as has been suggested by some. Additionally, milking the election process for the big bucks is what has led to the consolidation that brought us the likes of Diebold... very buggy software run on WindowsCE platform. Independently verifiable voting machine software MUST be OpenSource all the way down! -- RonJandrasi

It should print the voter's choices (in English) onto a piece of paper that is behind a window. The voter cannot touch the paper, but will get a printed receipt (separate printer) with a matching number. Example:

  Vote identifier: E12345
  1. President: Ralph Nader
  2. Senator: Foo M. Bar
  3. Congress person: Jane Doe
The receipt would look like this:

  Vote identifier: E12345
  Date: Nov. 2, 2004 
  Time: 4:23pm 12 sec.
The screen would instruct the voter to tear off the receipt and compare it to the number on the printed paper, and verify the voting choices in the paper-porthole if they wish. The paper scrolls out of view or is covered by a plate after a voter finishes.

Traceability goals achieved:

The hard part is the specialized sealed printer with a porthole. Parking booth technology can probably be used to provide receipts.

"Paper Is the New Silicon" by Jennifer Granick, Jun, 07, 2006 http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,71092-0.html?tw=wn_index_22

See: VotingMachineDiscussion, TechnicalSpecificationForVotingMachines, ModestElectronicVoteProposal IsAnythingBetterThanPaper

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