Can ‘Electronic Voting Machines’ be ‘Trusted’?

Leaving aside what exactly an Electronic Voting Machine is, the New York Times weighed in with this editorial the other day:

“Electronic voting machines that do not produce a paper record of every vote cast cannot be trusted. In 2008, more than one-third of the states, including New Jersey and Texas, still did not require all votes to be recorded on paper. Representative Rush Holt has introduced a good bill that would ban paperless electronic voting in all federal elections. Congress should pass it while there is still time to get ready for 2010 […click here for the whole thing]” (from How to Trust Electronic Voting, New York Times)

I wasn’t sure whether or not Representative Holt’s bill was good or not, so I was interested to read this commentary on another influential elections related blog. Let me jump to the punchline:

The New York Times just doesn’t get it. You’d think, by now, they would. But they don’t. And they should print a correction immediately […snip…]” (from New York Times wrong again on E-Voting‘)

and more:

“[snip…]The reference to “paperless electronic voting”, aside from being so very 2005, is also incredibly misleading. The idea that “electronic voting machines that…produce a paper record” are somehow more trustworthy than those which don’t, has long ago been discredited by computer scientists and security experts.[snip…]” (also from New York Times wrong again on E-Voting‘)

And here then is another rebuttal from someone who believes that having any automation involved in counting votes is big trouble:

“[snip…]The simple fact is: you can NOT trust electronic voting. No paper receipts, paper ballots, recounts (where, as we saw in NH’s 2008 primary recount, ballot chain of custody is a joke and recounts are likely conducted with compromised ballots to validate a fraudulent computerized count), no statistically improbable audits (as proposed by Mr. Holt), can reverse the untrustworthy and completely unverifiable results of a privatized, computerized, non-public, concealed vote count.[snip…]” (fromForget Iran, say NO to concealed vote counting in the US of A”)

You can see that there are strong opinions.

Yet, I wonder whether, looking into the real future (50 – 100 years) anyone can imagine that we will still be marking up pieces of paper and then scanning them. I don’t think so, therefore the only question is how long it will take.

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