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Diebold paper trail: Voting Machine? NO; ATM, checkout, credit cards? YES

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TruthIsAll Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-03 06:56 PM
Original message
Diebold paper trail: Voting Machine? NO; ATM, checkout, credit cards? YES
Edited on Fri Dec-05-03 07:10 PM by TruthIsAll
Apparently, your vote is not that important. But your money is.

The Great Unsolved Mystery: WHO decreed that ONLY touch screen voting machines should NOT provide a voter-verified paper trail, unlike ALL other human-interface transactional sytems, which provide transaction receipts?

That decision was not made in a vacuum. It was not just an accident. And it made it very possible, even probable that elections would be stolen. Which they were: in Florida 2000 and Georgia 2002 and elsewhere.

No audit trail, no proof of fraud. Very simple. The ultimate high-tech robbery. Except it's democracy that was stolen.

Who ARE these guys?

Sixty Minutes, when will you arise from your deep slumber and ask the question?

Why the Current Touch Screen Voting Fiasco Was Pretty Much Inevitable
By Robert X. Cringely

If you spend any time on the Internet in the U.S., it is almost impossible not to know about the scandal involving touch screen voting machines. I mentioned it a few months ago, and my goal at that time was to goad the big newspapers into looking at the story, with the idea that if there was any truth to it, the New York Times and Washington Post ought to be on the story. Well, now they are, especially the Times, which this week ran an op-ed piece by Paul Krugman that ought to make a lot of politicians very uncomfortable. Depending on whom you read, either computerized voting is being used to help American voters or to hurt them. The American Civil Liberties Union said in California that certain counties in the recent recall election were disenfranchised by not having touch screen voting, while other organizations suggest that touch screens were used to steal elections in Georgia. I don't know about any of this, but I do know about Information Technology, so I suggest we look at this issue in a way that nobody else seems to be -- as an IT problem.


One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, somehow expecting a different outcome. In this instance, the issue isn't whether Diebold and the other vendors were insane (they aren't), but whether the government is.

Now against this backdrop of failure, I can't help but make one technical observation that I think has been missed by most of the other people covering this story. One of the key issues in touch screen voting is the presence or absence of a so-called paper trail. There doesn't seem to be any way in these systems to verify that the numbers coming out are the numbers that went in. There is no print-out from the machine, no receipt given to the voter, no way of auditing the election at all. This is what bugs the conspiracy theorists, that we just have to trust the voting machine developers --folks whose actions strongly suggest that they haven't been worthy of our trust.

So who decided that these voting machines wouldn't create a paper trail and so couldn't be audited? Did the U.S. Elections Commission or some other government agency specifically require that the machines NOT be auditable? Or did the vendors come up with that wrinkle all by themselves? The answer to this question is crucial, so crucial that I am eager for one of my readers to enlighten me. If you know the answer for a fact, please get in touch.

Having the voting machines not be auditable seems to have been a bad move on somebody's part, whoever that somebody is.

Now here's the really interesting part. Forgetting for a moment Diebold's voting machines, let's look at the other equipment they make. Diebold makes a lot of ATM machines. They make machines that sell tickets for trains and subways. They make store checkout scanners, including self-service scanners. They make machines that allow access to buildings for people with magnetic cards. They make machines that use magnetic cards for payment in closed systems like university dining rooms. All of these are machines that involve data input that results in a transaction, just like a voting machine. But unlike a voting machine, every one of these other kinds of Diebold machines -- EVERY ONE -- creates a paper trail and can be audited. Would Citibank have it any other way? Would Home Depot? Would the CIA? Of course not. These machines affect the livelihood of their owners. If they can't be audited they can't be trusted. If they can't be trusted they won't be used.

Now back to those voting machines. If EVERY OTHER kind of machine you make includes an auditable paper trail, wouldn't it seem logical to include such a capability in the voting machines, too? Given that what you are doing is adapting existing technology to a new purpose, wouldn't it be logical to carry over to voting machines this capability that is so important in every other kind of transaction device?

This confuses me. I'd love to know who said to leave the feature out and why?

Next week: the answer.

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david_vincent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-03 07:05 PM
Response to Original message
1. I was given to understand
that the reason they said it couldn't be done is that the ink and paper would cost too much.
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Old and In the Way Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-03 07:38 PM
Response to Original message
2. Why don't they market a local printer as an option?
I checked out their site the other night, TIA, on your resource post link.

Very interesting. No mention of printing paper audit capability. No offering as an option. Apparently, no one even asks on their FAQ page.

Do you know of another for-profit business who would not offer an add-on printing option as a way to generate more revenue? Me either.
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althecat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-03 05:33 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. Someone should email I cringely and tell him the answer...
The person responsible for the lack of paper trail is.

Doug R Lewis...

The reason, specious thought it is, is that they claim that a paper trail could be used to identify how individuals voted... which is crap of course all they need do is have a locked ballot box and a paper cutter that cuts each ballot before it drops it into the box.

But hey... Doug has is reasons... and I expect they have green ink on em.
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