Columnist Writes Masterfully on Mountain of Evidence Against Company's Crappy Systems, Officials in State of Denial and More...
Only Small Quibble: His Advice to Vote by Absentee...So Here's Ours Instead...
By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2006, 3:24pm PT  

A great column yesterday by Andrew Kantor in USA Today on the failure that is Diebold's electronic voting systems. An amusing (if painfully so) piece as well. He covers the mountain of evidence against Diebold's e-voting systems ("We send people to death row on flimsier and more circumstantial evidence," writes Kantor), the damage to our democracy, and the state of denial that officials, and the other dead-enders who support this technology, are now in.

His column includes this...

What more do people need to hear or to see or to read to convince them Diebold voting machines simply can't be trusted? A burning bush?

...And this...

And as for election and elected officials who insist that there is no danger in using Diebold machines, here's an important question: What will it take to convince them that these machines are not safe?

And I mean that. There has to be some threshold of evidence that will cause them to de-certify these machines. What is it? Does the San Diego Chicken have to be elected governor before you admit there's something wrong?

Because if we've entered the realm of "Nothing will convince me that these machines pose a problem," then they don't deserve to be in office. Period.

...Amongst other gems.

I hope he'll broaden his coverage to include the other manufacturers (ES&S, Sequoia, Hart InterCivic et al) soon, since there is no reason to believe their machines are any less shitty than Diebold's.

Only complaint is the headline and sidebar encouraging folks to vote by absentee ballot. On that, I sent Kantor the email below which I hope he (and you) will consider when advising folks to vote by absentee...

Andrew -

Tremendous column today in USA Today. Really enjoyed it, and hope to be linking it up from BRAD BLOG shortly.

ONLY "complaint" is the advice to vote Absentee to "circumvent the entire e-voting process."

Unfortunately, that's not so. Those Absentee ballots are also counted by electronic op-scan systems (the same ones that have failed in election after election so far this year) and worse, there are few ways to track the tabulation of those votes and get an accountable paper trail of their tabulation when they're sent in via absentee.

Those ballots, if they arrive on time, or at all, etc. are scanned straight into the central tabulator. There is no real good way to know how many have been scanned, received etc. Very difficult to audit, in other words.

I'd recommend voting Absentee ONLY if there is not a paper ballot option at your polling place (that would include op-scan). If your ONLY choice is to use touch-screen, then Absentee is certainly preferred, but voters should try to deliver their ballot to the polling place or Board of Elections on Election Day (check local rules for that).

If you MUST vote absentee and you MUST send it by mail, xerox your ballot first, and then send it certified return-receipt requested.

Yes, that's a lot of work. Yes, voting in America shouldn't be that hard. But that's the state of our electoral system/mess right now.

All in all, however. Thanks for noticing! And giving a damn!

Brad