Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Good News on Electronic Voting

Recently Maryland announced plans to ditch the Diebold voting machines which, in the interests of open and trustworthy elections, is a tremendously good move. If the people cannot trust the election process--apart from whether elections really matter that much given all the money corrupting the system--how can the people have any confidence in government "by the people"? Now US Rep. Rush Holt has introduced the Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act of 2008, which would provide $500M to help states replace touch-screen voting machines. I think this helps get over a significant stumbling block for a number of states--it's hard to discard expensive stuff when that makes it necessary to buy more expensive stuff. Additionally, "Holt is also the author of the pending Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act which would require a voter-verified paper ballot for every vote cast in the U.S. along with routine random audits. The bill was reported out of committee in May and awaits action on the House floor. It also requires the states to meet federal standards for ballot verification and auditing." ( see http://www.extremenano.com/article/Bill+Would+Help+States+Ditch+Electronic+Voting/223702_1.aspx ) This also would be a step towards increased confidence in the election process.


Marco Ramilli said...

Well, Are you sure that this is a good news on eVote ?
I mean, do you think financing old technologies as paper's vote is a good news ?

Jeff Martens said...

I don't think it's a matter of old vs. new technology, but rather of appropriate technology. All of these touch screen systems have been shown to have vulnerabilities that are easy to exploit, and, with closed-source, no examination of the source code, etc., the voters have no idea how good or bad the software is, what trap doors if any have been inserted, etc. The testing that's done is similar to traditional QA testing, which verifies functionality, but doesn't uncover vulnerabilities.

Certainly the optical scanning technology isn't perfect, but it does provide the ability to do audits, which the touch screen systems do not unless fitted with printers--which cause their own problems.

Every voting technology has had its vulnerabilities, but touch screen has so many and--most importantly--raises the specter of a class break.