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The long litany of disaster paraded before us that is e-voting must be terminated. The hearings which the Maryland governor held were, for me, a catalyst for moving away from pointing out problems and proposing fix-it tweaks, to demanding a real solution.  The activity in Maryland is a beginning.  Now is the time to demand that every state eliminate electronic equipment as a certifiable source of voting results.  I want every state to - no, I demand that every state - pass a law to resolve this mess.  Any less is the theft of your vote.  We must have election laws that ensure your vote counts.  Here's how.

1.  Paper Ballots.
Florida (my neck of the woods, anyway) uses a combination of paper ballots (optical) and touch-screen.  There is no paper record of each vote on the touch-screen.  I'm not a Windows programmer, and it's been many years since I've done VBA,  but even I could create a system in a month that would print out a paper ballot, which could then be added to the same box as the pre-printed paper ballots.  Go ahead and keep the touch-screen.  Just hook up a standard USB or ethernet printer to every one, and use it to print off a completed ballot.  You don't even need a (toy) database in them, since they won't be counting anything.  They become nothing more than a glorified form printer. (Updatable pdfs, anyone?)

2.  Universal Manual Recount.
I'm not sure what the best title would be here.  I do know that, in Florida, a manual recount is illegal.  A "recount" consists of simply feeding the ballots back through the same machines that counted them in the first place.  This is insane.  Rather than doing a manual recount only in special circumstances,  we must count the ballots manually every time.  Optiscan tabulators can be used.  No problem.  That can help satisfy the media hyenas.  But the official count can not be surrendered to a political criminal like Diebold.  The official results of the election must come from a manual count of ballots.  It doesn't matter if it takes three weeks.  Just do it.

3.  Chain of Custody.
We've seen a clear illustration of the risks inherent in criminal mismanagement of ballots, in the Mexican illection*; countless ballots dumped in the garbage.  The ballots must be tracked carefully, with no detours into special warehouses, no unguarded central collection points, no disappearing ballot boxes, no pre-stuffed ballot boxes.  Election staff can help in this, but more important is legally facilitated ....

4.  Public Oversight.
Not only designated political party members, but anyone should be allowed to watch over the whole process, from birth to death.  Whether that be people following every move of every box, webcams on every box, or something else, the process must be transparent.  The only aspect of the whole process which needs to be secret is the actual ballot markings themselves.  If the ballot boxes aren't transparent (and why shouldn't they be?),  then allow public review of each box before it's sealed to begin the election.

Let's demand that every state institute these actions before the November election.  If they don't, then they are election thieves - and murderers of democracy.

* illection.  Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Originally posted to tle on Fri Sep 22, 2006 at 07:26 AM PDT.

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