Thursday, June 23, 2005


Apparently, paper trails aren't all they're cracked up to be. At least, according to some people:
Worse still, he says, is that mandating a paper trail complicates the voting process, making it more likely that election officials will slip up.

In Nevada, the only state where a printer was attached to touch-screen machines for the 2004 Presidential election, Selker reports that printers were stowed in insecure places, opened without supervision, and that election workers even cut out portions of the paper-trail while reloading paper in a jammed printer.

Conny McCormack, who conducts elections in Los Angeles County, California, and testified against the bill, says the printers failed to help in the way they were supposed to anyway. “There was a key assumption - that voters would actually look at the paper trail. The fact is that most of them didn’t even glance at it,” she says.
Somehow, I can't stop thinking about the fax machine from Office Space. Maybe we don't need printers on our voting booths after all. What we definitely do need is independent examination of the code for these machines. Bizarrely, in most states the government is forbidden from independently examining the programs these machines run - combined with the natural uncertainty of any election results, it's hard to dismiss the conspiracy theories about the 2004 results.

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