Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A half-fast solution

NY Times:
Three Senate Democrats proposed emergency legislation on Tuesday to reimburse states for printing paper ballots in case of problems with electronic voting machines on Nov. 7.

The proposal is a response to grass-roots pressures and growing concern by local and state officials about touch-screen machines. An estimated 40 percent of voters will use those machines in the election.

"If someone asks for a paper ballot, they ought to be able to have it," said Senator Barbara Boxer of California, a co-sponsor of the measure with Senators Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin.
As long as the voting machines are hackable and unverifiable, as they are, any election involving them can be stolen. Having a combination of paper ballots and electronic voting solves nothing.

The best solution, to me, is using touch-screen computers to prepare paper ballots. The computer guarantees that overvotes don't happen--you can't vote for both Gore and Nader. It also guarantees that every ballot is legible--the computer prints a valid ballot, without phantom marks, hanging chads, or anything else to invalidate the ballot. Preferably, the computer prints TWO copies--one for the ballot box, the other for the voter. The voter can do whatever she wants with her copy--share it with the media, give it to the party boss, frame it, burn it. After the machine prints the ballots, the voter verifies that they are identical and represent his votes properly. The official copy should be machine-readable AND easy to read by humans. Scanners, if used, would be simple counters, with no network connections, USB ports, card slots, or any other way to hack into them. Their accuracy could and would be checked regularly.

Touch-screen voting offers the opportunity to get almost all of the confusion and errors out of voting, but the no-paper-trail machines currently being foisted on America have no purpose other than facilitating the theft of elections.