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Reply #34: Not "hatred" of computer counting. The problem is lack of transparency. [View All]

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 11:54 PM
Response to Reply #20
34. Not "hatred" of computer counting. The problem is lack of transparency.
Edited on Sun Feb-28-10 11:57 PM by Bill Bored
This is not a problem with lever machines. The parts are not only readily available, but can be manufactured according to the original specs if necessary. Nothing is hidden from the public or the election officials.

When you have anonymous transactions as we do with secret ballots, you can't expect anyone who got ripped off to complain the way they do with a bank, brokerage firm or grocery store. The victims will never know.

There are some bleeding edge schemes that allow voters to see that their votes were recorded, but that won't allow them to prove or disprove this to anyone else, and would still rely on computers to check other computers to see that the votes were correctly counted once recorded. At some point, the buck has to stop with human observers, and reliance on computers does not facilitate this.

No computer scientist I know of thinks it's a good idea to trust software to count votes. It's too complex to prove that it's error-free and it's also hackable.

Also, there is no piece of software that can be made so that vote switching between candidates is physically impossible, as with a lever voting machine. This makes verification of tallies and spotting anomalous results much more difficult because votes can be switched without generating excessive undervotes. And don't get me started on OVERVOTES, which is a known problem with ballot scanners because there's no way to prevent overvoting on a paper ballot. The best these machines can do is notify the voter that they've overvoted. We hope the voter will respond by correcting the error, but they may not. It's a usability question, and this assumes the software is properly set up to notify the voter in the first place.

There are lots more reasons not to trust computers to count votes. At this point, about the only ones who think it's a good idea are election officials who've pissed away millions of taxpayer dollars on this stuff, and at the same time REFUSE to confirm the election results using the paper ballots. They just want to trust their computers.

The election officials bringing the lawsuit mentioned in the OP should be commended for having the courage to speak out. We need more like them.
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