Monday, February 27, 2006

Voting issues roundup

Folks, we are getting closer to some very important elections, yet little has been done to make solid progress on the ongoing issue of untrustworthy electronic elections. I've been following this issue intently since the advent and aggressive uptake of the new electronic touchscreen voting machines. My reason is simple: non-voter-verififed votes with electrons only cannot be trusted at this time. Honestly, I'm not sure they can ever really be trusted in the same way that votes on physical media can be trusted, but that's another story.

Here is a small grab bag of news stories and information that should give you a good grasp on the current state of things. Our last presidental election was decided with about 30 percent of our national vote being cast and counted on non-voter-verified electronic voting machines. Given the kinds of problems I've linked below, and the inherently untrustworthy nature of the technology itself, we really have no idea who we elected in 2004. Clearly I'm not at all pleased with the result, but that's not my primary issue. The lack of trust is the biggie for me. Good or bad, we need to know absolutely that our leaders are duly elected indeed. Without this, it is very difficult to continue to have a strong faith in our system as a whole.

And on to the news:

Watchdog Group Questions Fla. 2004 Vote

"An examination of Palm Beach County's electronic voting machine records from the 2004 election found possible tampering and tens of thousands of malfunctions and errors, a watchdog group said Thursday."

Ohio Voting Fraud

This is a nice analysis of the issue and it's potential ramifications on upcoming elections. Bear in mind, that 30 percent figure for 2004 may well be 50 percent by the time the elections come to pass...

Alaska Now Refuses Release of 2004 Election Data Citing Security Concerns!

Can somebody explain to me how the record of the peoples votes threatens the security of the state of Alaska? Maybe they are worried more about how people will react to the knowledge than they are about accurate and trustworthy elections...

Elections Officials fear '06 Season of the Glitch

"When you look at disaster stories, it is usually that first time using a new piece of equipment that something is going to fall apart," says Kimball Brace, president of Election Data Services, which maintains data on voting systems across the country.

I've got a couple of still relevant articles, here on OpenGeek, on the topic as well:

How Electronic Voting Impacts the Trustworthiness of Our Elections

This article details the fundemental differences between votes cast with electrons and those cast with ordinary means, such as paper ballots marked with pens and how those differences impact trust and thus democracy as a whole. Recommended for anyone that does not understand the very basic trust issues.

"Electronic voting machines that use Closed Software and electronic voting records violate the two strongest of the core ideals necessary for mutual trust in an election. These ideals of transparency and oversight are time tested and necessary. Without voter-verified paper record facilities attached, these machines are unacceptable for use in any election."

Dealing with Voting Machine Ignorance, One media person at a time

This is an advocacy how-to article. Blog posts, such as this one and the ones linked above are valuable in that we are getting the word out. That's good, but we need to pack a bit more punch with our traditional media sources if the issue of electronic trust is to see greater acceptance and consideration. (and yes, we do need this!) Challenging posh voting machine success stories is one very effective way to do this that I used with some solid success in '04. Nothing has really changed, but the year, so go get 'em people!

"[How does it work?] First, you find a story, such as: “Voting machines exceeded expectations in recent election” This story is great because you can put the following in your e-mail subject to the reporter of the story. “How do you know those machines worked so well?”
Trust me, they are going to read that..."


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