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Reply #30: I just don't think this is correct [View All]

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OnTheOtherHand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-24-09 09:02 AM
Response to Reply #21
30. I just don't think this is correct
I agree that the point about "my" vote counting is salient: it isn't obvious that it inherently matters whether individual votes can be audited or not.

Here's my problem:
Unfortunately, the mechanism of a lever voting machine maintains no independent record of each voter's ballot. Instead, the only record of a vote is the count maintained on the mechanical register behind each voting lever, where each register has a mechanism comparable to the odometer in a car. Not only is this vulnerable to tampering by the technicians who maintain the machine, but it means that the machine has an immense number of moving parts that are subject to wear and very difficult to completely test.

Roy G. Saltman has noted that the number 99 shows up in the vote totals on lever machines significantly more frequently than would be expected if vote totals were randomly distributed -- that is, the number of 99's is noticably different from the number of 98's or 100's. The probable explanation is that it takes more force to turn the vote counting wheels in a lever machine from 99 to 100, and therefore, if the counter is going to jam, it is more likely to jam at 99. The fact that this is a frequent occurance (sic) in vote totals reported from lever machines is empirical evidence that the lever machines that have been used in real elections are, in fact, inadequately maintained and that this results in the loss of a significant number of votes. Exhaustive pre-election testing would be expected to detect these jams, but exhaustive testing of a mechanism as complex as a lever voting machine is very time consuming, and performing such tests on every voting machine prior to every election would be prohibitively expensive.

Lever machines do fail in elections, and some probably fail without it being noticed. Also, as demodonkey pointed out, there's reason to believe that individual machines can be tampered with practically undetectably.

I think it's at least perfectly plausible to say that lever machines are the best we've got. But Andi Novick seems to be in deep denial, and I'm not interested in going there with her.
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