They Get It!

Here is a voting machines op-ed piece,”Voters must have faith in the vote count,” by my local chief elections officer, in San Mateo County, California. I recommend printing this out and mailing it to the elections official in YOUR county! (And the link is to the version formatted for printing!)

The answer is so that California can have an accurate vote count and avoid the chaotic election scenarios that other states have experienced. The verification of the vote can help ensure the integrity of election results.

The way a voter would check his or her vote is simple. After he or she completes the electronic ballot, a paper summary prints out, and the paper record is compared to the electronic record. Once satisfied, the voter pushes a button, and the ballot is cast. The electronic ballot gets stored in computer memory, and the paper ballot is deposited into a locked ballot box.

The choice of providing voters an opportunity to check their votes is upon us. The consequences are serious. One computer scientist has said, “Touch-screen voting systems have fatal security flaws so dangerous that they could allow people with access to the software to modify election results on a national level, and without detection. It is a matter of national security that we fix these flaws.”

And here is the San Jose Mercury News’ editorial today on the subject.

Dozens of computer scientists, led by Stanford University Professor David Dill, have been calling for this reform. It’s disappointing that most county election officials have been defensive instead of open-minded. They don’t want to admit that they’ve been bamboozled by vendors’ claims that the touch-screen systems are infallible. They don’t want to concede that the software glitches and malfunctions that impeded elections in Florida last year and elsewhere could happen here.

Slocum has suggested how a paper audit might work. After you voted electronically, the machine would print out a copy of your ballot for you to look at but not touch. The printed ballots would be machine-readable (no more hand recounts), in large print and capable of being printed in many languages. If you or the touch-screen machine made a mistake, you’d catch the error and fix it before casting a final ballot.

Hooray for the San Jose Mercury News! They get it!