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Is a Nationally Widespread New Voting System Ready for the 2020 Elections?

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/08/23/nationally-widespread-new-voting-system-ready-2020-elections

Woo-hoo! Another black box–newer! bigger! faster and shinier!–to come between voters and having their ballots recorded as marked. What could possibly go wrong?

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Answer: No.

Next question

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When it comes to voting, US citizens are the dumbest in the world.
Here’s a new system, paper and pencil, with overseers at every polling location to watch the count. There, just eliminated 99% of election fraud.

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After skimming the story, I have to say we did a pretty piss poor job. Who the hell thought that using an unreadable (by humans) bar code was a good idea? Someone is trying to save a bit of paper for no damn good reason. It would have been just fine to use a simple number letter pair list (1. is presential election, A-F are the parties that qualified, 2. is the senate race, etc.) so that the ballot was a small card much as it is when you fill out the ballot yourself vote by mail in CA (which I do). But a barcode? Come on man!

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And where’s the “democrat” “leadership” on this?

Nancy? Chuckles? What say you?

crickets…

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And 100% of “hacking.”

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But NEITHER Party wants THAT. And their Wall Street Puppet Master don’t either

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When questionable purchases are made by gummint officials, the first question should be just what might be dangling under the table to entice their approval.

Don’t think that’ll be denoted in rubles …

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I couldn’t figure out what advantage this system has over pen-and-paper, so I clicked on the ExpressVote link in the story. Most of the ExpressVote website is computer blather about security, but in the first paragraph I found the purpose of this equipment:

‘As a marker, the ExpressVote handles the entire marking process, eliminating marginal marks and the need for interpretation of the voter’s mark.’

That’s right - this is all about solving the curse of the stray marginal mark.

My local voting place uses fill-in-the-circle paper ballots and optical scanners to report the totals quickly. Marginal marks are not a problem because anything outside of the circle is ignored. The circle is either filled or it isn’t, so interpretation is rarely necessary. ExpressVote therefore solves nothing while adding a slew of software and manufacturing weaknesses to the voting system. Why would anyone want to use it?

I can’t believe that we have to discuss this - or that legislators and election officials even consider it .

P. S. - This voting contraption comes from the same mindset that says we need to employ ten million people in the health insurance industry as salespeople, HMO assemblers, policy writers, customer service agents, etc, even though they add cost and complexity but not value.

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Yes, that is the most plausible explanation for any official interest in this stuff.

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I don’t know for sure, but would assume the software is also proprietary, just like the past when election officials weren’t able to access the code.

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I think that you’re right. The ExpressVote website has a link to their ‘Intellectual Property’, and they list 45 patents related to this device. They also write that they are ‘diligent about policing’ their patents.

The system uses a proprietary USB device for access and programming.

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The ExpressVote website boasts that the device produces a ‘verifiable paper record’, but IMHO that is false. Votes on this machine are cast by using a touch screen; when the voter is finished, the machine prints out a sheet of paper for the voter to verify. The voter can touch Bernie’s name on the touch screen and the printout may have a picture of his smiling face, but there’s no way for the typical voter to confirm that the bar code means ‘Bernie’ and not Hillary or Trump. The article discusses ‘unreadable’ bar codes, but the problem of readable-but-wrong bar codes is different. A paper record produced by the machine proves nothing.

Much of the ExpressVote website lists computer security features - encryption, signing keys, proprietary USBs, etc - but each ‘feature’ is a response to a weakness, an extra layer of complexity, and an additional weakness itself. Pen and paper have none of these problems.

Chris Sautter sez:
“They’re pushing these new machines because they want to make money. That’s the bottom line. They’re pushing them over hand-marked paper ballots, which address all of the security and transparency issues that everybody is worried about.”

The advent of an “election industry,” as seen in the U.S. examples of ES&S, Diebold, et al, is incompatible with democracy.

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Maybe things have gotten too big. What if:
Voting was a federal holiday ,
All voting places were within a walkable distance.
Each voter was assigned a time.
All votes marked with permanent marker.
At the end of the vote day, all voters could see the votes called out and tallied .
The television , on line and other places could no longer declare a looks- like- a -winner.
All voting places were checked for irregularities.
It might be the next day, as voting groups were not be huge, but maybe the votes would be posted so that everyone could see.
It would take longer to find a winner, but we all know from George Bush the 2nd, and from the Wisconsin governor guy whose, aide transferred all the vote counts to her computer, that neither of these were fair elections. The smaller and more simple, might give more real counts. It might take a lot more small groups, but the honesty would probably be higher. : )