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Why one New York county is hand-counting all its ballots [View All]

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-07-10 11:56 PM
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Why one New York county is hand-counting all its ballots
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Written by VIRGINIA MARTIN
Tuesday, 07 December 2010

Why county is hand-counting all its ballots


COMPUTERS HAVE TOUCHED almost every aspect of our lives...so, of course someone would connect software and elections. That, however, is not necessarily a good thing.

The zeroes-and-ones electromagnetic technologies that enable the most utilitarian and wonderful aspects of our connected culture....can't....build the kind of gut confidence in an electoral process that is possible when human beings from my town, whom I know and trust...study every vote cast, call out each vote, see it recorded by another, and then together tabulate all the votes.

This is hands-on democracy. That it's a vanishing species is a crying shame. But, this fall, Commissioner Jason Nastke and I have brought it to Columbia County, because our alternative was to submit our democracy to invisible...processes by which computerized voting machines scan a paper ballot, interpret the votes cast on it, record those votes and tally all the votes they've handled.

-snip-

The half-dozen programs that run our optical-scan voting machines are... so complex that computer scientists say that testing them to confirm that they contain no errors, inadvertent or malicious, is beyond the state of the art.

That doesn't build my confidence. Nor do I gain confidence that the machines are accurate simply on New York State's say-so. Since I, as election commissioner, have to certify to the accuracy of any election run under my watch, that steers me in the direction of a more elemental process -- a hand count under the watchful gaze of individuals who are invested in its accuracy.

Our state handed us a $50-million lemon when it required that we use computers to count votes...We were far better off when we could use simpler, less-expensive lever voting machines that operate via simple physical processes that anyone can understand and check....So, the Columbia County Board of Elections is making lemonade.

-snip-

Virginia Martin is Democratic election commissioner of Columbia County.

Read the whole article at:
http://www.columbiapaper.com/index.php/opinions/1675-by...
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