By Brad Friedman on 11/8/2010, 7:35am PT  

Dan Wallach of Rice University was one of the computer scientists who worked on California's landmark 2007 "Top to Bottom Review" of the state's electronic voting systems. He's also a voter in Harris County (Houston), TX where a fire destroyed all 10,000 of the county's 100% unverifiable voting systems just a few weeks before the start of early voting.

His report on his personal experience at the polls on Election Day, where the county was forced to have paper ballots on hand this year as they scrambled to find enough borrowed e-voting systems (for some stupid reason) to replace their destroyed ones, is well-worth reading. It begins this way...

Back in late August, Harris County (Houston)'s warehouse with all 10,000 of our voting machines, burned to the ground. As I blogged at the time, our county decided to spend roughly $14 million of its $40 million insurance settlement on purchasing replacement electronic voting machines of the same type destroyed in the fire, and of the same type that I and my colleagues found to be unacceptably insecure in the 2007 California Top-to-Bottom Report. This emergency purchase was enough to cover our early voting locations and a smattering of extras for Election Day. We borrowed the rest from other counties, completely ignoring the viral security risks that come with this mixing and matching of equipment. (It's all documented in the California report above. See Section 7.4 on page 77. Three years later, and the vendor has fixed none of these issues.)

Wallach goes on to describe how difficult it was for him to actually get a paper ballot, despite their availability at his polling place this year, and how, even after various difficulties towards that end, he was still able to complete his vote before his wife, who chose to vote on the unverifiable, virus-prone e-voting system...

I asked the poll workers at the sign-in table if they were planning to offer paper ballots to anybody in line and they looked at me as if I was insane. I also mentioned that I finished voting faster than my wife and one poll worker went as far as to say "don't tell anybody!" as if that might (gasp!) cause people to want to vote on paper.

His report, particularly given his intimate, expert knowledge of the voting systems that most Houston voters were strongly encouraged to vote on, is, as noted, well-worth reading in full...

Oh, and by the way, where is all the evidence of that "massive Democratic voter fraud!!!" we were breathlessly told by the Houston Republican gr ... er ... I mean independent "Tea Party" group in Houston was scheduled to occur this year (in minority areas, naturally)?

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