READER COMMENTS ON
"Pam Smith of Verified Voting, The Latest of Many Election Integrity Advocates to Mislead Americans About the Holt Election Reform Bill"
(13 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink]
said on 6/12/2007 @ 5:05 am PT...
I never thought I would see an activist movement I thought was visionary fall into the trap the fundamentalists fell into.
That trap is the belief or faith in legislating morality:
The reality is that no system of government can force morality on its citizenry. Cultural renewal requires more than the passage of a set of laws demanding morality. It requires that people—individually and collectively—want to be moral.
(Vision). The only thing worse than thinking morality can be legislated for people, is to think it will work for machines!
Stalin used 100% paper ballots but always won, quiping that "it is not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes".
In other words, without honesty nothing will work, not the Sopranos, and not even the mythical canard of 100% paper ballots.
As long as the voting morality movement lodges its faith in legislating election morality it will continue to fail as it has these past 40 years.
COMMENT #2 [Permalink]
said on 6/12/2007 @ 11:44 am PT...
But Dredd: would you prefer paper ballots or e-vote machines? We should get the best system in place, and continually work on honesty. Since there's dishonesty, get rid of the system that's easier to hide the dishonesty within.
More people can participate in counting paper ballots. I would think there would be more honest people involved in counting paper ballots. How about US volunteering? Right now, e-vote machines...how can we participate in counting?
COMMENT #3 [Permalink]
said on 6/12/2007 @ 12:08 pm PT...
Dredd's right (partially) in his point that even paper ballots can be gamed. Dredd's wrong by indicating that the solution is honest elections officials.
The solution, in fact, is transparency in the system, so that we don't have to trust any election officials to be honest. As he surely knows, the best elections officials out there will tell you that you should not have to trust them. But rather, we need a transparent system that citizens can oversee every step of the process.
Even if an election system (let's say electronic DRE touch-screen systems) count every vote, absolutely accurately, and the local election registrar is Mother Theresa who performs her duty perfectly, there is no way for citizens themselves to actually know that the election results are accurate.
The only way that can happen is for a system to use ballots that are known to reflect the voters intent (not possible with DREs), for those ballots to actually be counted, countable and recountable by any citizen.
Even that does not guarantee integrity. But it allows us to try and achieve integrity where an electronic ballot system simply cannot, no matter what lipstick you put on that pig.
COMMENT #4 [Permalink]
said on 6/12/2007 @ 7:01 pm PT...
It's disappointing to see a smear like this one on an outstanding election integrity activist.
Brad and his cohorts seemingly would prefer to go back to our system of voting machines with no paper records than to accept the very stringent requirements on the paper records that the Holt bill requires for voting machines.
And Brad says, "perhaps accurate, perhaps not, there is no way for any voter to know for certain" about the paper records. That of course, is nonsense. The way the voter knows for certain is simply to check the paper record. Yes, it's true that some voters may not check the paper record. But the bill's provision do everything possible to require notification at the polling place to remind the voters to do so.
Just about all election integrity activists, including Pam I am sure, would prefer a ban on direct recording electronic voting machines. But when that turned out to be impossible to pass in the judgment of Holt and his colleagues, Holt did everything he could to discourage their use, and to provide for voter verifiability if they are used.
COMMENT #5 [Permalink]
said on 6/12/2007 @ 8:35 pm PT...
As mentioned here many times, "paper records" merely placate the voters and give a dangerous false sense of security. While *you* may be able to check *your* paper trail, you cannot know whether the machine recorded it that way.
Further, *I* can never know which, if any, paper trails have been checked when later doing an "audit" of those trails.
And finally, as you'll learn here tomorrow, even when voters are told to check their paper trails, they consistently miss errors on them.
Would I rather have DREs used *without* misleading "paper trails" if DREs have to be used at all? You betcha. Especially since gamed systems, with gamed paper trails and audits can be used to "verify" the "accuracy" of DRE voting machines. Even on a hacked election. More on that here in the near future as well.
COMMENT #6 [Permalink]
said on 6/12/2007 @ 10:17 pm PT...
It is very disappointing to see ignorance of an issue such as the VVPAT and using that ignorance as an argument in favor of such. To argue that the voter simply verify the VVPAT as a certainty of the voters DRE vote recorded as cast is to deny the fact that the true DRE vote of record can not be verified, period! God could not show you your ballot of record as cast on a DRE. My goodness, your arguing to institutionalize these DRE machines as it will take an act of god to revisit this issue at a later date. This issue needs to be resolved the first time around, we do not need band-aid legislation to misleadingly attempt to correct the mistake of direct recorded electronic voting! We need integrity within the voting integrity community and it is you Mr. Stokes that is being disingenuous and it is Ms. Smith and you who provides the mud that is thrown, but it does not stick and you know it! It is the fact that Ms. Smith and you know it that makes my stomach turn. Our vote is not something that can or should be compromised, this is not a farm bill with give and take, this is our vote and we have the right to cast a ballot and that ballot needs to be verified by the voter and that ballot needs to be the vote of record and that ballot needs to be the original hard-copy voter marked ballot and counted in a transparent fashion with rigorous sample auditing and no less. These so-called citizen activist groups who support HR 811 are selling out our right to secure, accurate, verifiable elections and it is beyond reason why.
COMMENT #7 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 5:02 am PT...
Paperless DREs are better than no paper trail at all?
Even if some percentage of voters checks their paper trail, the trail offers a check on the possibility of severe error (like what happened in Pottawattamie County, Iowa last year) or severe tampering.
If you go back and do an audit of the paper trail, true, you can't be certain that each voter has checked each vote. Voter-marked paper ballots are by far superior. That's why we advocated them in Iowa, and why our state is moving toward a statewide optical system.
But I much, much prefer DREs with some kind of paper trail. And the bill provisions calling for signage in the polling place are a good start. And no matter what, there will be a lot of VVPAT systems in place on November 4, 2008. Public education is needed, through the parties and through civic organizations.
I am also convinced that HR 811 will lead to the use of fewer DREs. Two reasons:
1) States are going to have to audits under the bill, and audits are much easier with paper ballots than with VVPAT. An election official I have spoken with said that if we have audits, "counties that chose paper trails are going to wish they had chosen optical scan."
2)The durability and accessible verification requirement strongly favors op-scan. That's one of the reasons Avi Rubin and David Dill support Holt, even though they both prefer op-scan. State-level activists can use Holt as leverage, and an opportunity for education.
If Holt passes, fewer DREs will be in use on November 4, 2008. That's good thing.
COMMENT #8 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 7:08 am PT...
Big Dan #2 and Brad #3
In the effort to not waste Bradblog disk space I won't bother to repost here my comments to John about the paper ballots v paper trail canard, or to repost my comments to John about my concerns with HR 811 and S. 559 that mirror Brad's concerns.
I will mention that I did not oppose transparency Brad. Transparency is seeing the source code and the original HR 811 kicks ass on that issue. To mention one good thing is not to exclude all others my man.
There is no one magic bullet solution. Again, as Dredd said in 2525: "It takes a whole honest village to raise an honest electronic voting machine system."
COMMENT #9 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 7:48 am PT...
The thing I don't like about DRE's, is you are touching a screen...the screen says you voted for someone...that's THE SCREEN saying that! What's going on INSIDE THE MACHINE? So WHAT...if a paper spits out who you voted for. What is going on INSIDE, between the screen and the paper that's spit out? THAT is not transparent to voters! "Trust the screen", that it recorded your vote correctly, electronically, inside...then "translate" that into paper. There's THREE translations here! The screen...the inside electronics...and the paper!
When you check a paper ballot, that's ONE THING! Too many things can go wrong with DRE's. There is no proof whatsoever, your vote counted and/or counted correctly.
When you check off a paper ballot, you can LOOK AT the paper ballot, get it? You can lose SIGHT of the paper ballot, find it, and look at it again! Does anyone get this?
COMMENT #10 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 9:04 am PT...
If Brad really would rather have DREs without paper trails than DREs with paper trails, then I fear that he doesn't really understand audits. Since the whole point of audits is to compare a hand count of the paper trails with the DRE counts to determine if errors have been made by the DRE, having no paper trails means having no protection against DRE errors (consider the Florida/Sarasota 18000 undervote situation, for example).
Back to faith based voting, I guess.
COMMENT #11 [Permalink]
said on 6/14/2007 @ 6:06 am PT...
Big Dan #9
The same can be said of any machine based system that presents an image to a viewer on a screen.
It is fully and completely irrelevant whether it is a touch screen or a touch keyboard system. It is a canard and causes us to not think deep enough.
Open souce code, on the contrary, shows us exactly what any machine does after we touch the screen or after we touch the keyboard.
We can trace our screenstrokes or keystrokes as they are converted into electron steams that eventually make their way to disk and to paper ballot and on to the counting.
Without that open source reality any keyboard system or touch screen system can present either a true picture or a false picture on the screen. We will never know if we don't know exactly how it works.
Unless we have voter verified open and transparent source code it is a faith-based system. Hell, a whole cottage industry of souce code watchdogs will arise and they gaming of voters will suffer a huge blow when that open source reality happens.
The original HR 811 and the current S 559 would have done that, but the replacement amended HR 811 one will not.
We are on the verge of going backwards.
COMMENT #12 [Permalink]
said on 6/18/2007 @ 2:10 pm PT...
Paul Stokes (#10) said:
Paul Stokes -
What you don't seem to understand is that paper trails can be gamed as easily as the internal machine numbers (see the landmark study on e-voting security by NYU's Brennan Center for Justice for an example or two of how that works).
Thus, having a gamed paper trail backing up a gamed election result as reported by the machine then "audited" as accurate by a Holt-mandated audit makes things worse, not better.
At least we know what we do not know now. Paper trails give a false sense of security that the machines recorded votes accurately. Had their been 18,000 paper trails "confirming" that voters chose not to vote in the FL-13 race, for example, do you think their would be a Congressional challenge at all for the race?
COMMENT #13 [Permalink]
said on 6/19/2007 @ 7:46 am PT...
BigDan said it all!
I am a computer programmer and I VEHEMENTLY oppose any and all electronic voting. It is laughably easy to have a program dutifully spit out whatever you want to see (as in what you originally chose) and turn around and record the opposite.
BigDan, may I quote you in my emails?
You are wrong. Open source is NOT the answer. How many technicians and computer experts would you have to cart around to every single voting machine to VERIFY that the source code running on it on election day is indeed STILL the same code that was scrutinized, tested and certified? You need EXPERTS to determine such a thing, since software executables are not human-readable like the original source code is.
What people like Paul Stokes don't understand is that audits have done NOTHING for us, even when "results" are close enough to trigger them. As here in San Diego, the thugs in control annoint and swear into office the candidate of their choice BEFORE such audits are allowed.