Friday, September 08, 2006

E-voting, down and dirty

Ed Felten from Freedom To Tinker discusses a report on the real experiences from the recent primary election in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. This report gives a valuable, sobering look at what really goes on behind the scenes with e-voting, what goes wrong, what goes right, and what election officials need to do to use e-voting correctly.

As Felten says, Cuyahoga County deserves credit for going public with this information. Rather than avoiding having problems, many voting officials prefer to avoid finding problems. Cuyahoga County's courage in opening up their electoral processes to world-wide scrutiny is a great sign that officials in some places, at least, take their responsibilities seriously.

One of the more note-worthy points is that Diebold's optional add-on paper trail facility, the "voter verified paper trail" or VVPT, has an incredible 10% failure rate. This is worrying for many reasons, not the least that in a disputed election, the paper trial is considered by Ohio to be the one true record of votes.

The failure rate of Diebold's VVPT is ridiculous: it isn't that hard to create a printer that can print successfully more than nine times out of ten. ATMs also have a paper record of their transactions, and they don't fail one time in ten. One time in ten thousand is more likely. Perhaps Diebold should ask the people who make ATMs how they do it.

Oh, that would be Diebold too. Hmmm.

No comments: