The vendors aren't making them any more, and are trying to produce optical scan systems. New York has written such a tough law that vendors have had a tough time getting their dirty feet in the door.
Now New York is being torn between the choice of trying to keep their Lever machines or switch to optical scan systems. That might be ok except for the fact that today's new optical scan machines are nearly as complex as DRE/Direct Record or touchscreen machines.
The vendors made more money on service and licensing contracts for DRE machines, and optical scan machines mean less money for the vendors.
But with the new generation, vendors have managed to create a Rube Goldberg-esque machine, a sort of Frankenstein machine.
The vendors have built complexity into the new optical scan machines in order to ensure a demand for their technical support services and software licenses. The new machines are shoddy, insecure, inaccurate, and overly complex. The tech support, maintenance and licensing are Vendor's bread and butter. They will do anything to keep the gravy train rolling, and keep us dependent on them.
So while optical scan machines, with paper ballots, can be very reliable and easily audited, the new generation of optical scan are much more complex systems.
One of the key benefits of optical scan systems WAS the fact that they are far simpler to use in elections in every aspect. Even for poll workers they are simpler.
Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to present one of the front runner voting machines proposed for New York, and actually used in some jurisdictions now:
The Sequoia Image Cast Optical Scanner/Ballot Marking Machine
Here is the ES&S DS 200, an Optical Scanner on Steroids:
One mistake in programming can cause thousands of votes to be miscounted or lost.
With Lever Machines, the risk is limited - one machine can only count 999 votes.
One optical scanner - up to 3,000 votes. One Lever Machine - up to 999 votes.
we're still fighting this battle. We've had ATMs for about thirty-five years now, and every single day, tens of billions of dollars are handled electronically over the Internet by ordinary people, not just comptrollers of currency for major corporations.
Yes, there have been some hiccups in the two examples above, but competant minds have figured out how to get the vast overwhelming majority of the transactions 100% accurate, so that most people can have confidence in using these things every day.
Why are we still hassling this, when all we need is for it to work right two or three days out of the year, for only a relative few transactions per adult?
4. Electronics are not as secure as mechanical; ATMs a different product, still vulnerable.
ATMs have the ability to cross check and are cross-audited; voting is supposed to be an anonymous process. Still, there is money lost. Our gov't computers are hacked 40%, and FBI noted a couple years back that 87% of businesses report hacking, 44% of which insider, if memory correct.
Not all electronics are of equal quality, and functions that decide our Democracy, transfer of power, who spends our resources, need straightforward accuracy.
States all over the country are unable to transition their new equipment due to the budget crisis, and the Boards of Election are already in deficit. Auditing and good procedure take money, and need more people than counties are able and willing and affordably able to hire. Procedures with electronics (in our case eletcronic counting) are expensive and we doubt our counties will perform the checks necessary. Ballot programming and custody of all aspects of hardware and software contain risk.
Where we complained of software independence problems with DREs (direct record touchscreen), with or without a paper trail, law is now valuing/maybe trumping the paper ballot we've sought by the scanned image inside both systems considered by NYS.
Federal law introduced by Holt is another danger. Check with Brad Blog. Just as we push for wording that stipulates the voter marked ballot (and not just a voter record), we're undermined by that scanned image, further federalization and privatization of our elections.
The picture shows the ballot marker on top of the scanner, which is unncessary for the NYC scanner(which bought the automark). That marker does not give the privacy for the disabled, but the boards bought it for the same reason they liked DREs initially-the bells, whistles, glitz and new. Beware of the shiny new beta test.
Our bottom line concern is that the elections have become ways for vendors to sell and ruin what should be a transparent process. The election boards once in favor of DREs now see the folly of that loss of control they wanted with the turn key elections, serviced by the vendors, promising accuracy. Just trust us. May be too late for the commissioners to exercise the judgment they should have shown, instead of listending to vendors who pushed the direct touchscreen voting this last decade and a half.
Now we have to replace levers, even though HAVA does not say we have to do anything, beyond providing disability equipment.
12. There's one big problem with being able to check your 'voting account'
If we provide a paper record of it, we provide a way to sell one's vote. If I can get ten bucks from the Repukes, but only five bucks from the Democratic Party for voting a straight ticket, then we've just made a way for the vote to be corrupted.
Again, seeing as many millions of transactions take place for financial services, but we have no reliable way of voting by a modern machine, I'm still a bit puzzled.
One of the biggest problems NY has had in its certification process is with vendor documentation. This was also evident in Bowen's Top to Bottom review, IIRC.
If the vendors don't provide adequate documentation, the jurisdictions become dependent on them for training, and even running the election, because their election officials won't know how.
Lever machines are pretty much self-explanatory, like hand counted paper ballots, only a mechanical counter does the counting like an old cash register. No software or other "programming" involved. Do we know of many incidents when those old cash registers gave the wrong totals or change?
Those of us who have been around long enough to remember when a penny was worth a penny would be aware of such incidents of errors made by non-software dependent machines. I can't recall a single one. Can you?
But like money, software changes everything! It might be possible to make an electronic equivalent of a lever machines without the use of stored program computing. After all, they can make cash registers that way! But the problem with elections is always the secret ballot, which makes it impossible for the counting to be revealed to the voter at the time the ballot is cast.
With mechanical devices however, it is possible to prove that the linkages between the levers and the counters actually exist. Can't do that with software because they are all subject to change without notice.
16. They don't have to "peddle" the lever machines--they were all paid for years ago.
They belong entirely to the public (as it should be), and don't need expensive (and insecure) electronics "patches" and upgrades, nor private corporate personnel running the elections or hanging around secure areas during elections, nor sophisticated, expensive, SECRET testing, and they don't run on anybody's private, corporate 'TRADE SECRET' code.
They are simple, mechanical machines, easy to maintain, and not easy to rig without getting caught red-handed. And they cost the states of New York and New Jersey virtually NOTHING compared to the extremely expensive, trouble-ridden, insecure, easily riggable, private, corporate, 'TRADE SECRET' code electronic systems.
Are people crazy? Are Americans crazy? Are we a people who have lost our minds? Or what?
We need to get rid of these Bushwhacky e-voting systems NOW! Or we're going to have more Bushwhacks killing, torturing and thieving in the future. Believe me. That's what the 'TRADE SECRET' code is for.
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