May 07, 2004
The paper trail

Kevin Drum and Nick Confessore discuss paper receipts for electronic voting machines. I've said this before and I'll say it again: I think that the various e-voting machines should be the interface, and the paper receipts should be the actual ballots that get counted. Combined with optical scan readers, they should be highly accurate, and will provide defenses against fraud and tampering that are already well known and well understood. Best of all, their ease of use would eliminate any concerns about accessibility for the disabled - in the specific case of the visually impaired, as cited by Kevin, the came principle would apply: use the fancy electronics as the interface, then print it out for the official record.

I really don't see what's wrong with this idea. It solves the problems that we faced in 2000, and it's only marginally more expensive than the electronic-only solution we have now. What do you think?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 07, 2004 to Technology, science, and math | TrackBack

The fact this entire paper-paperless argument is partisan totally baffles me. I have yet to see a single Republican come down on the paper side nor do I recall any Democrats on the paperless side.

For someone who is naturally paranoid, the implications verge on tinfoil hat territory.

Posted by: Charles M on May 7, 2004 4:29 PM

Why use the machines to print paper ballots, which are the only things counted? Why not do both? Keep a count on the machines and keep the printed paper ballots both. That count should match at the end of voting. You get redundancy that way, and you get a paper trail. Both are desirable.

Charles M: Is this really a partisan issue, or is this a case of your simply not looking around very much? Rob Booth has written quite a bit on this, and he's sounded alarms. I haven't written all that much on it, but there's an opinion up above that doesn't match your expectations. *shrug*

Posted by: kevin whited on May 7, 2004 4:47 PM

Kevin, I'll look it up. However, I don't think one local blogger exactly constitutes a groundswell of support within the Republican party. Personally, I find H.R. 2239 being blocked in committee, Republican authored anti paper opeds in the Chronicle and WSJ and what I read in the national press somewhat more compelling that Mr Booth's blog. I am certainly unaware he now sets policy for the national party but, as you will certainly point out, what do I know anyway.

Which leads me to: please drop the thinly veiled insinuations I am ignorant of most things. "A case of your not looking around" and "In case you haven't been paying attention" aren't phrases typically used to constructively advance a conversation.

Posted by: Charles M on May 7, 2004 8:45 PM

Here's some stuff on my site:

Ohio Report

It's a Process


Here's one place when I commented on OTK.

And no one knows better than me that I don't set RNC policy. :>

Greg has come out against paper.

But I think you're correct in that it's largely a partisan divide.

I've been thinking about how to implement a paper trail for the eSlate in Harris County. I think it might be more difficult than I earlier thought. Still worth doing though.

Posted by: Rob Booth (Slightly Rough) on May 7, 2004 10:32 PM

Oh, and I think the paper receipt/ballot should be for recount purposes and the electronic record should be the one routinely used.

Posted by: Rob Booth (Slightly Rough) on May 7, 2004 10:34 PM

Thanks for the links. I went to your site tonight, didn't see a search and decided I'd look Saturday.

Saying it is a largely partisan divide is more accurate than my absolute statement. For instance, HR 2239 has six Republican cosponsors out of 140. Not many, but given the lack of bipartisanship in the House, six more than you could reasonably expect.

How you actually count the votes is an interesting question: I can see both sides of the issue. I tend to lean toward a hybrid until the technology matures, that is, count the paper in a random sampling of the precincts to verify counts and use the electronic count in the others.

Posted by: Charles M on May 8, 2004 3:01 AM