Here in San Diego, we get handed paper ballots, we mark them up, and then they're fed through a scanner. No knowing how the scanner is programmed, but at least there's a physical copy showing our marks. I flinched when electronic voting was brought in—especially as a "security measure"—but then I read The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, where a self-aware computer steals the Loonies' first election, in my impressionable teens.
The paper ballot allows auditing and recounting. And that audit or recount can be done with different technology, even a Mark 1 Human Eyeball and pencil. Impossible with a purely electronic record.
Dagnabit! I lost track of the dates (too busy with too much work for the day job) and only just realised that I've never received my absentee ballot. (Living abroad makes it difficult to, yanno, go vote in person.) Grrrrr.
A friend whose early-voting day came earlier than mine was not amused to discover that the voting machine she used had a strong bias for Republicans. It undid her choices and replaced them with a Republican.
Ran into this here back in 2000 with a voting machine that came prepopulated for the Presidential choice.
It was ... interesting, to say the least.
Early voting starts way early in Tennessee, so I have already voted.
I am also untrusting of electronic voting machines, especially after I heard that the president of Diebold was working for Bush in 2004. But it's all we've got here, so what can I do?
Though as it happens, one of the reporters for the local paper is a friend of mine and if I saw the voting machine changing my vote, I might pull out my cell phone and offer her first chance at the story.
There's been a move afoot here to re-introduce paper ballots as an option. One of the other problems with the voting machines is that they're difficult for people with some physical limitations to use. Used to be you could sit down to vote, but the machine makes you stand, and you can only see the screen clearly from an angle that's uncomfortable unless you happen to be the right height. Also, because the machine is faster, you're supposed to be faster as well. The pressure to hurry up is always there, as it wasn't with a paper ballot.
2010-10-27 06:53 pm (UTC)
Depends on where you vote. We voted last week, and there were two wheelchair accessible stations, identical to the one I used but wider, lower and with a desk in addition to the computer. It may be different for the mobile voting, but this was a permanent station open the full two weeks.
You can vote, I believe, at any early voting station in your county. The volunteer keys in the precinct printed on your voters' registration and the appropriate ballot comes up.
I was pleased (sort of) to see the machines in use in Round Rock require two or three different sorts of doublechecks and confirmations before accepting your vote. I'd still have rather seen paper confirmation or a plain old paper ballot, but they seem a little less human-error-prone than the machines in use in Austin.
We'll see what we get up in this end of the county.
I tend to be right of middle, but I'm an Independent (I was a Libertarian briefly). Generally speaking fiscally conservative and socially moderate. Governor Perry is an example of everything that is bad in Texas politics in my opinion (along with the SBOE). I know he's going to get re-elected, but I'm still going to vote against him. I'm also voting out the SBOE member in my area (or trying to at least).
I'm not sure but it wouldn't hurt to find out if you can cast a paper ballot in lieu of the touch screen.
Sounds like it is time to raise a stink to make sure no voter fraud is going on or even if it is just doing an improper job--neither is acceptable in our electoral process.
I may not like any of our choices (and I pretty much don't), but I've always thought that the voting itself has been fair. That could be naivety or optimism on my part. No way for me to know for sure.
I live in the state that was "stolen" TWICE. when it came time to vote for Gore, I swear the electronic machine in Dade County changed it. There was not enough registered Repubs in the area for those results.
At least the machines in Brevard County are 'fill in the bubble, scan, keep the paper' so there COULD be a paper trail if necessary.
which reminds, early voting is open, need to find out what I need to do.
The electronic voting machines in Illinois make a paper record of your votes when you submit them - and you can scan that paper record before you leave the machine. I doubt that this method eliminates all voting fraud, but I suspect they do this because no one here would accept pure electronic voting.
One benefit of coming from a state where the motto "vote early and often" is part of folk history from our largest city, and where the next step on a governor's career path is often jail...
2010-10-27 04:06 pm (UTC)
It can be invisibly changed where the voter has no chance to know that it's happening.
Paper ballots have been the norm for the majority of our history. There are many more and easier ways to skew the results with paper ballots then there are with electronics. That doesn't even begin to cover what can happen with paper during recounts.
2010-11-01 08:25 pm (UTC)
Re: It can be invisibly changed where the voter has no chance to know that it's happening.
Oh? With properly secured (yes that is problematic but...) paper ballots you count them with reps from each side watching the counting. Or you run them through an optical read machine which people from both sides watch the programming of AND RECHECK THE PROGRAMMING EVERY SO OFTEN IF NEEDED.
With the old lever machines we used, it was mechanical, rather difficult to 'play with' and could be tested thoroughly on the day of the election. Members from all parties would check the tapes on the back of the machine every hour and make sure that the number of ballots registered on the tape matched the number of ballot entry cards in the machine for that hour.
With many of the voting machines, the programming is considered proprietary so the machines come to the voting places pre-programmed with the ballots and you can test them but you don't really know what is going on behind the scenes. It would not be that difficult to write a program that said something along the lines of "for the first 500 votes, enter as entered, after that for every 5th vote for [Party X] change it to a vote for [Party Y]"
I seem to recall a fiasco in early electronic voting where they projected on a big building the results of the election (mayor maybe?) and the number of votes cast was an order of magnitude larger than the number of people registered to vote (to say nothing of the number of people who actually voted). Or a situation in California where someone was reprogramming some machines on the day of the election and surprise surprise surprise the person who had been losing in a close race started winning ... convincingly.
If the machines entered the data into an HTML form, I would be much happier because then people from both sides could verify the programming of the web-survey. It isn't that difficult to read HTML code and see what is being coded as what. With the proprietary machines, you have no way of knowing because no-one outside the company is allowed access to the programming.
Already voted and had no trouble with the machine.
I voted for exactly two Republicans, judges I know, and carefully went through to hand (one at a time) check each box for Democrat or Green, in one case, just to make my point. A pox on Perry, who has been in much too long!
The court case against electronic voting in Travis County without a paper trail continues. **Fume**
I really don't like the idea of electronic voting. They seem too easy to tamper or error. I'm an excellent programmer, and I've seen some whopper mistakes I've made. Or rather small ones which grow into big ones. I mean just because something prints out one way doesn't mean it's what actually being tallied. (Ahh, that's bit me a few times!)
edited for stupid typo ---see it's the typo's that are the problem...
Edited at 2010-10-27 11:46 pm (UTC)
I hope your friend reported the behavior of that voting machine to someone above the unsupportive person at the polling place. I work as a machine inspector in my precinct and if one of my machines did something like that, I'd be on the phone to the elections office right away reporting the problem.
Some machines are much more trustworthy than others. Electronic voting machines have been used in my county since the early 90s. I trust the ones we use far more than I'd trust paper ballots. The same can not be said for some of the newer types of machines though. Some of those sound much too prone to tampering of various sorts.
We voted early here in Denton, and I can report there were both paper and electronic options available to us. (Sorry, I didn't check handicapped access.) Voting went smoothly, yes I had to double-check several times before I pressed the final button.
I can see the reasons for paranoia, on both sides of this issue. But can't offer any new and/or improved ideas about eliminating fraud completely.
I do think my DH was slightly disappointed that there weren't any thugs (of any party, gender, or race) trying to intimidate us outside the polling place, so he could tell them where to go. Ah, good ol' testosterone ... *rolls eyes*