READER COMMENTS ON
"'False Choices in the Debate on Voting Technology'"
(6 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink]
said on 3/1/2007 @ 11:44 am PT...
This morning (in Ireland, that is; middle of the night in the USA) I looked at BBV and this guy had started posting lots of comments praising the Holt bill. When I started encouraging him to look more closely into the many problems with the Holt bill, he got unpleasant.
He didn't seem interested in bothering to check out the huge amount of detailed discussion about the Holt bill. Such as the links HERE.
It seems there is a sudden, organized "push the Holt bill" effort afoot. There is no discussion of the downside or amendments needed, and vague smears and insulting remarks were thrown in for good measure.
What a time-waster.
Informed disagreements about policy and legislation are one thing. But thinly-veiled disinformation is another.
Glad you're doing what you're doing to keep people in the know.
COMMENT #2 [Permalink]
said on 3/1/2007 @ 1:50 pm PT...
Great! Your article is at Truthout.org too.
COMMENT #3 [Permalink]
said on 3/1/2007 @ 3:07 pm PT...
I completely agree with what you have written here about legislative support at the federal level for DREs.
However, you left out a very important part of this story. All, and I do mean all, of our representatives have accepted bribery money, money we euphemistically call lobbying, from the companies that manufacture these machines. This legalized bribery occurred during the HAVA discussions, while HAVA was in the draft stage. That is the single reason that our legislators will not dump these shoddy pieces of junk, even though they admit to all the serious problems with them.
My representative, Congresswoman Woolsey, has answered every single one of my letters to her, except the one in which I asked her if she had accepted campaign contributions from any touch-screen voting machine companies, and if she had, would she please consider returning them. This one little response oversight on her part is very telling to me.
Your work in this area would be even more productive than it already is, if you would report on which representatives in Congress have accepted touch-screen voting machine company contributions, either directly or indirectly, and in what quantities. When this information is finally made public, then and only then will any of our letters to our reps be of any consequence in this particular matter.
Thanks for all you are doing. You are a gift to democracy.
COMMENT #4 [Permalink]
said on 3/1/2007 @ 5:42 pm PT...
good article, but just remember that ballots are *actually* recounted so infrequently (and when done, at such great expense) that the relative sense of safety some feel with opscans is mostly an illusion. Even with opscans, no single human being or combination of human beings actually know the true count from their own personal knowledge --- barring the expenditure of many thousands of dollars for a recount that can only take place weeks later, after which time there is PLENTY of time to, (as *in fact* happened in the 2004 presidential recount in ohio) rig the recount to come out the same as the original count.
This rigging happens (even in Democratic Cuyahoga County Ohio) because those who did the first count have a powerful urge to avoid further work AND avoid making themselves look bad as the certifiers of the first count. I.e. the government can not audit itself, blow the whistle on itself, or otherwise check itself, just like human beings are individually incable of checking and balancing THEMSELVES. Only the PUBLIC can provide the critical checks and balances yet HAVA precisely makes these impossible.
Whether the second counters are "recounters" or "auditors", if the second-counters are in any way even remotely connected to the original counters, they have a powerful discincentive to do a rigorous job in finding errors in the first count, and therefore they have a powerful disincentive to doing true service to the public interest.
COMMENT #5 [Permalink]
said on 3/2/2007 @ 8:07 am PT...
I resonate with the overall track that you're on with this essay, but have more pieces to add.
First, there's really no inherent problem in using a DRE/touch-screen machine--if it's hooked to a paper trail machine that is machine readable during multiple counting passes (could be optically scanned, card punched, etc ... just not those flimsy "fold up and stick in your billfold" scraps of paper that they call "receipts").
However the next step is then to have a machine at each precinct that will scan that final ballot for the voter's private review of how she/he voted. If it misreads or is wrong, the voter can fix the problem by re-voting immediately. (Note: if the machines are constantly cranking out bad ballots, then a hand-marked ballot is the only reasonable alternative i'm aware of. However, even hand-marked optical ballots could be scanned and verified on site.)
Unfortunately that only solves the problems at the point of voting. A much more traditional set of problems is cheating with "lost" ballots and box stuffing--eliminating ballots that are unfavorable (in the eyes of whoever is doing the scamming), and adding ballots that favor their candidates and causes. (Remember all those dead people that voted for Richard J. Daley and his friends in Chicago?) As long as we rely solely on paper ballots, it's unlikely we'll ever get to the point of having a truly fair and honest election. To deal with that problem, i propose something like this:
Add an ID number to every ballot: the first few digits would identify the state and precinct, then a randomizer would add another 10 digit extension that would be unique to that voter. This number goes on the ballot and on a facsimile ballot that the voter gets to keep that documents what their actual vote was. Then all the final ballots wold be scanned into a national database that is accessible online. Any voter could log on from home or library (or wherever) and see if their vote was recorded properly ... for posterity ... and they'd have the facsimile ballot to prove it if need be. If their ballot got lost or misrecorded, the voter would be able to file a complaint and restore their vote in the master database.
Then we'd just need to come up with a way to screen out the phantom votes, and (of course) make sure people are allowed to get to the polls and allowed to vote.
Food for thought ...
COMMENT #6 [Permalink]
said on 3/3/2007 @ 7:03 am PT...
Some of the problems with using any machines at all are:
1. Machines cost more than pencils.
2. Machines break down more often than pencils.
3. Machines cannot be repaired or replaced as cheaply and easily as pencils.
4. Machines are not transparent and there is no way to prove that the vote you cast, even when it matches the ballot the machine prints out, actually matches the electronic vote that the machine records invisibly to transmit to the central tabulator, which can also be rigged to alter an election.
5. If there is a machine count allowed, whether it is a first count or an audit or recount, it will take precedent over and invalidate any hand count in the case of a dispute, as such disputes have to be decided by the courts and the courts have been stacked with judged who were hand-picked by unelected ("elected" by the machines, not by the voters) legislators.
6. Congress can (and has) swear in candidates based on a partial machine count. Once a candidate has been sworn in, there is no possible way to remove them. Only Congress itself could remove a candidate they've sworn in, and why would they reverse themselves just because voters want them to? Do they usually do what voters want?
7. Any voting machine that can be designed, can be hacked. The programmer has yet to be born who can hack a pencil.
Those who say that DRES with paper trails or optical scanners along with paper ballots, are better than nothing at all, and should be supported over DREs without paper trails, are saying that rigged elections are better than no elections, so if all Congress will allow us are rigged elections, we have to accept that and hope for improvement some day. They fail to realize that as long as we have unelected legislators, we won't get any improvement. If they can be "elected" by the machines, they don't need our votes and won't be responsive to us.
NO MACHINES! PAPER BALLOTS, HAND COUNTED, AT THE PRECINCTS, IN FULL PUBLIC VIEW, NOW! As Paul Lehto says, you cannot compromise away democracy and still call yourself a free people. We are the People. Don't ask what Congress will give us. Tell them what we want and if they obey their corporate patrons instead of obeying We the People, boycott their elections so that they cannot claim legitimacy. Remember, when you vote in any election that uses a machine to count votes, you are voting to outsource our jobs (and your own, if it hasn't been outsourced already), increase the national deficit (already the largest in history), further pollute the environment and hasten global warming, support torture and war crimes, destroy the Constitution, and to support corporate rule, more commonly known as fascism. Is that really what you want to do?