Confidence in the voting system

A recent Zogby poll found that even in red states, which voted for George W. Bush, 32 percent of the public believes that the election was stolen. In blue states, the fraction is 44 percent.

via a succinct op-ed by Paul Krugman.
I’ve been working on evoting issues here in Texas. Voting administration officials are very concerned that “alarmism” about evoting will reduce public confidence in elections.
It is too late. We have a problem. Without a voter-verified paper trail, there’s no way to have a reliable audit. If something goes wrong, we’ll never know.
The way to handle citizens’ justified concern is action, not Xanax and lullabies.
Officials are concerned about cost. Krugman says it well.

What about the expense? Let’s put it this way: we’re spending at least $150 billion to promote democracy in Iraq. That’s about $1,500 for each vote cast in the 2000 election. How can we balk at spending a small fraction of that sum to secure the credibility of democracy at home?

10 thoughts on “Confidence in the voting system”

  1. Oh interesting. I’m glad to hear that people are working on the issue around these parts. I don’t think our electronic machines in Austin are Diebold, but I’d bet they suffer some of the same trouble. At what level are you plugged into the discussion, if I may ask? (city? state? as an individual? with a non-profit? with the government?)
    I don’t think that the solution is rocket science. The government could commission or build in-house an open-source program and open-architecture machine whose design (hardware) and work-product (software source) could then be shared nationwide. The development cost of something like that should be fairly trivial given all the technical projects of NASA, DARPA, ARL, etc, not to mention government involvement with university research systems. Then have contractors bid to produce the hardware (and final software integration with hardware specifics).
    It’s worth noting that it does not matter how the software and hardware specs are developed. If they are donated to the public domain, then the final security audit of the results is all that matters. In the interest of fostering democracy, we could share it worldwide. Other countries could share the design product if they wished. They wouldn’t have to trust us. They could do their own security audit before acceptance.
    As far as open-source government-backed development of the software, I believe that I’ve read that Australia is going in such a direction. (Maybe the U.S. could use the result as well?)
    A paper-receipt backup system should be a no-brainer for developing trust.

  2. Oh interesting. I’m glad to hear that people are working on the issue around these parts. I don’t think our electronic machines in Austin are Diebold, but I’d bet they suffer some of the same trouble. At what level are you plugged into the discussion, if I may ask? (city? state? as an individual? with a non-profit? with the government?)
    I don’t think that the solution is rocket science. The government could commission or build in-house an open-source program and open-architecture machine whose design (hardware) and work-product (software source) could then be shared nationwide. The development cost of something like that should be fairly trivial given all the technical projects of NASA, DARPA, ARL, etc, not to mention government involvement with university research systems. Then have contractors bid to produce the hardware (and final software integration with hardware specifics).
    It’s worth noting that it does not matter how the software and hardware specs are developed. If they are donated to the public domain, then the final security audit of the results is all that matters. In the interest of fostering democracy, we could share it worldwide. Other countries could share the design product if they wished. They wouldn’t have to trust us. They could do their own security audit before acceptance.
    As far as open-source government-backed development of the software, I believe that I’ve read that Australia is going in such a direction. (Maybe the U.S. could use the result as well?)
    A paper-receipt backup system should be a no-brainer for developing trust.

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