East Coast voting is a ritual. You walk into a "voting machine" surrounded by a curtain that draws shut when you pull the lever. The aura of power and mystery is palpable: at that moment, you are quite literally "the man/woman behind the curtain". As you face the seductively-shaped switches labeled with the candidates' names, you become aware that you are at the control panel of the world's mightiest democracy. You move a switch and it gives a satisfying click; your votes will not be made final, however, until you open the curtain and emerge from this "kodesh kodashim" of American politics.
Somehow this business of ballot cards, cardboard cubicles, or (heaven forbid) mail-in ballots never quite did it for me. So you can already imagine how I feel about electronic voting machines.
Feelings aren't at issue, though, for Armed Liberal at Winds of Change, who joins citizens from across the political spectrum in protesting the advent of electronic voting. Without further ado:
Right now is a four-month window before the June elections when many states are trying to decide how they will comply with the federal HAVA act. Here in California, we are about to be locked in a battle to decide if our votes will be processed - I won't say counted - by poorly designed voting machines and systems.
Friday, the California Secretary of State conditionally approved (pdf) the use of the fatally-flawed Diebold voting machines, subject to some rather sketchy conditions. Take a look at the attached report (pdf) for the testing he commissioned.
This independent testing that the SoS commissioned found still more flaws - but suggests that it's OK to use these machines anyway while we cross our fingers and hope.
I don't think so, and I'll be working hard to get as much attention paid to this as possible. Over the next few days, I'll post some specific suggestions about what can be done.
Among AL's previous posts on the issue is this one:
There are election-day issues in most elections (as we all can remember from 2000, right?) But e-voting machines are a particular problem, as presently constituted, because without a permanent paper trail, the votes - stored as records in a database - must be taken on faith.
In Florida, we could at least go back and try and figure out what happened. With paperless e-voting machines, there's just no way.
There are a lot of things that can make e-voting work; open-source software and ISO9000 audits are two of the ones that I support.
Now to to the link for full details - and take a gander at the testing that was done for California's e-voting machines (PDF link at the Winds post).