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e voting in favor
E-voting: In favor

“While there is potential for fraud with electronic voting, it is increasingly the better option for society. All in all, electronic voting improves the voting experience - especially for many citizens who simply could not vote in the past. Moreover, the transition to e-voting is natural: with the rise of digital technology, paper ballots are increasingly antiquated. Most important, this technology is not only effective; it is safe! The challenge, therefore, is to provide reasonable safeguards so that voters may rest assured that their vote will count."

d r e direct recording electronics
D.R.E = Direct Recording Electronics
  • DRE machines are different from other electronic voting machines which have electronic interfaces but do not record data electronically.
  • The electronic voting machine is activated by a device called a Ballot Activator Cartridge (BAC). The BAC is inserted into the BAC slot located right beside the electronic screen by a poll worker so that the voter votes no more than once.
  • At the end of an election, the electronic voting machine is closed with a supervisor password. During the process, summary vote data from the machine is transmitted to the BAC as well as to a compact flashdrive.
  • A printer pack may be used to print the resulting summary data, or it may be transmitted via a built-in modem. The BAC, any printed data, and the compact flashcard are finally brought to a central location for tabulation, where an electronic vote tabulator calculates the results.

source: http://www.thetartan.org/2006/11/6/scitech/htw (Carnegie Mellon University)

to keep in mind
To keep in mind
  • The vast majority of voting systems used in US elections already rely on computers in some way – DRE has been around since the early 1990s.
  • The use of DREs steadily continues rise; the federal ‘Help America Vote Act’ (2002) expressly promotes their use.
  • Currently, there is still more work to do in implementing standards to regulate the various versions of software employed in the operation of DREs.
  • There has not been an election formally reported in court wherein DRE technology has been declared to have seriouslycompromised the outcome.
  • According to Congress: “it is NOT clear whether the unique security problems posed by DREs are best addressed by requiring that they produce paper ballots or by other means”.
  • According to the same report, it would be premature to disqualify e-voting without allowing for further innovation and perfections within the scientific community.

source:The DRE Controversy: FAQs and Misperceptions, The Congressional Research Service (Library Of Congress)

apart from e voting
Apart from e-voting…
  • In the 2000 Presidential election, there were issues surrounding paper ballots -many people in Miami voted who were not registered or who we deceased.
    • "Even Dead People Voted in Miami". NewsMax.com (Dec. 25, 2000)
  • "The technological transformation now under way in polling places has its rootsback in 2000. That's when the close and pivotal presidential vote in Floridafocused national attention on voting-system flaws. Those flaws includedtechnological ones; confusing ballot layouts and balky punch card ballots(remember "butterfly ballots" and "hanging chads") that made many voters'intentions uncertain.“
    • Weiss, Peter. "Ballot Roulette". Science News, Vol. 170, No. 19. (Nov. 4, 2006)

In short, DREs are not to blame, but rather corruption of political machines, as well as people not knowing proper ballot procedure.

from the voter s perspective
… from the voter’s perspective
  • A key advantage of DRE technology is its adaptability for disabled and non-English speaking voters.
  • “Most DREs now are equipped with a headphone jack and some kind of tactually differentiated keypad for use by the visually impaired. A voter using this interface plugs a standard set of headphones into the machine and either a recorded or synthesized voice guides him or her through the ballot. Audio interfaces can also be programmed to speak in different languages, thus making them beneficial to any voters who cannot read English.”
    • Christopher S. Danielsen, editor of Voice of the Nation's Blind
  • With paper ballots, numbers of how many were needed in each language needed to be predetermined. In the end there was either a waste of ballots or a last minute rush to find extra in a particular language which inevitably discouraged citizens trying to vote.
  • Electronic voting machines help to eliminate the feelings of second class citizenship for disabled and non English speaking voters
  • “Once it had been demonstrated that a DRE could be made accessible to voters with disabilities, language requiring that at least one such machine be installed at each polling place using federal funds to upgrade its voting equipment was included in the Help America Vote Act.”
    • Matt Zimmerman staff attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation.
safety safeguards
Safety & Safeguards
  • Electronic Voting systems have flaws BUT they can be fixed
  • Possible Improvements
    • Voter Verified Paper Trial (VVPT)
    • Perform routine audits
    • Ban wireless components
    • Perform tests on random machines on election day
    • Test for fraudulent code or hardware
what the experts say
What the Experts say
  • “If there is no external communications pathway, then there is no risk of gaining unauthorized entry into the tabulation system…It is [also] possible to detect attempts to enter a modem line.”
    • Dana DeBeauvoir, Elections Administrator and County Clerk Travis County, TX
  • “Concerns about security of the collection and counting process have always been important. Computers offer the first technology that can easily make copies of information in different forms for archival preservation. Electronic voting machines of today keep records of the votes on disk, removable physical media in memories and, as a final count, on a paper scroll. These multiple records can improve voting machines’ immunity to problems.”
    • Ted Selker PhD., Director Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project
  • “Voting system software is engineered months advance of actual elections, making it very unlikely for programmers to know who candidates will be and impossible to know how their names will appear on ballots. The source code is held in escrow by various state and federal officials, and local officials do not have access to it, thus preventing code changes at the local level.”
    • Election Technology Council
the future
The Future

E-voting is essentially inevitable as we progress in an increasingly digital era. All new technology is bound to have some glitches. Rather than resorting to an outdated system, our energies should be focused on improving one that will subsequently provide multiple benefits for both voters and election officials alike!