Comments: Electronic Voting! Yaay!

Oh fercryin'outloud...

THE TECHNOLOGY EXISTS. Think for about a half of a moment about your ATM down at the bank. It is highly accurate, instantaneous, reports balances in real time, is networked nationwide, and is trustworthy. It is, for all intents and purposes, exactly what our proposed electronic voting system ought to be, and there are more of them spread throughout the country than there are Starbucks.

When you use your ATM, you have complete confidence that it is spewing out the correct number of twenty-dollar bills and showing you the correct account balance. If you didn't have that confidence, you wouldn't use it, but millions of Americans do every day. If our ATMs stole money from us, we would burn our banks to ground level. You walk up to your bank's ATM, withdraw sixty bucks, take your receipt, glance at your balance, and walk away with every confidence that the transaction was handled correctly and accurately.

What is preventing this decades-old technology from being readily adapted to voting?

"Picture the scene; imagine, if you will..." You walk up sometime during a two-week voting period, at your convenience, to one of several Automated Voting Machines. You insert your AVM card and key in your personally-selected PIN, verifying your identity. The network instantly verifies that you haven't already cast a ballot in this election, and allows you to proceed.

You quickly and efficiently make your selections (I voted this morning; 15 races, 16 judgeships, and 7 ballot measures in under 45 seconds, because I have sense enough to think about my vote BEFORE WALKING INTO THE BOOTH...), and the machine lets you know if you've accidentally voted for two candidates for the same office. Once you're done, you click the SUBMIT button. If you want a paper receipt, it spews one out for you on the spot, which you pocket along with your trusty AVM card. You're on your way, and your votes are safely, securely, and reliably tabulated for the totals to be released five minutes after the close of the polls on Election Day.

Somebody tell me why this can't already be happening.

Posted by Keith Arnold at November 4, 2014 12:56 PM

There's a great quote from Justice Brandeis that I cannot find but it came up in the 2000 hanging chad contretemps. It was not unreasonable to ask voters to give the occasion "the solemnity it deserves."

My mind was wandering as the Senseo® machine was heating this morning. Ruminating on James O'Keefe's exposing the simplicity of fraud, I thought "my nation -- in my lifetime -- has been considered a leader both in Democracy and technology." It does not seem that a clean election would be beyond our grasp.

I just checked at the SecState's website to ensure that my ballot was received (yes, 10/17). The convenience of a mail ballot is a benefit to me but I strongly object to this crazy Democrat, everybody gets a ballot nonsense. As a software and IT guy, I agree that we are not there yet to go online. But I suggest a hybrid use of technology with auditable paper.

The jk-o-matic vot-o-rama 2100™!
Every voter gets a paper with a barcode/scatter. He can see that it matches the form turned in, and precincts have both the machines to generate them and machines to read them. So you vote and get a receipt that can be read by a phone app, website, or polling location, allowing you to verify your vote and destroy to manage your own privacy.

This is extended to web and mail voters who have made special arrangements and provided bulletproof id.

The actual ballots are quickly readable by machine, but private to human reading. When the voter "commits" the vote pattern is disassociated from the voterID. So it has my number on it until I say I have checked it and accepted. Then the number is torn off and I can destroy my copy if I wish.

Posted by jk at November 4, 2014 1:05 PM

Obviously, my comment and Brother Keith's crossed in the aether. My flippant answer is "ATM technology is sufficient to not rob a bank, but we are talking real money here."

Yours is not a bad model, ka, but assumes a large infrastructure which the banking system in incentivized to create, maintain and protect. The every-other-year deployment to serve all eligible voters is a difference in scale. The banks and card companies are spending big dollars and hiring bright people to minimize fraud. I trust VISA to protect themselves, I do not trust the folks who wrote the ObamaCare® site. This is a tempting target for inside and outside hackery -- and will be developed by government.

Posted by jk at November 4, 2014 1:31 PM

Well, if I could vote in the Starbucks drive-thru (or Burger King or my local liquor store). No, still no sale.

The check on ATM error is the real and instantaneous anger if there aren't enough twenties dispensed. That is what precipitates the necessary "burn our banks to ground level" motivation, and would be absent in a voting scenario. Not because customers don't care, but because walking away with cash has a finality that an electronic vote tally, sent from one computer to another and another, does not.And that is my problem with jk's thoughtful design as well: Security from tampering, at many possible points of access.

I'm surprised by the dissent - a for-profit business who has a vested interest in expansion of electronic voting says "a truly verifiable voting system" equals "vote in person." And you two huckleberries say they're wrong?

And, really, should EVERYONE vote? I shudder to imagine.

Posted by johngalt at November 4, 2014 2:15 PM

Br'er JG: while I may or may not be a huckleberry, I don't think I disagreed at any point with Helios' opinion about in-person voting. I voted in-person; frankly, there's a side of me that says that dragging one's sorry carcass down to the polling place is good for participatory democracy. Anyone who doesn't have at least that much skin in the game probably oughtn't be voting.

My point is that IF we're going to have electronic voting, then we have the technology right now to do it with as much security as paper voting has, and the existence of ATMs is offered into evidence as Exhibit A. As a corollary to that, the fact that electronic voting systems are being used now that as as vulnerable to shenanigans as we've seen frequently leads me to believe that some of the people in charge want an insecure system, and want to be able to tinker with the results. We COULD have a secure system, but we don't - which means, someone doesn't WANT it.

I'm going to really light a fire with this next one. All the people out there who think that providing secure Voter ID is unreasonable, are the same people who are behind distributing EBT cards in place of welfare checks. Do you hear those people raising a hue and cry about the insecurity and hardship of the EBT system, or hollering about the risk of EBT cards getting into the wrong hands? One electronic system is unreliable, but the other isn't?

Posted by Keith Arnold at November 4, 2014 2:32 PM

Name calling at ThreeSources. It's truly just one more place on the internet now, I guess. The H-bomb is dropped just like a schoolyard.

Well you can impugn me, but do not misrepresent the jk-o-matic vot-o-rama 2100. It creates a physical paper ballot which can be verified at the end of any chain of machines.

My system was biased to on-site and has additional identification requirements for mail in and absentee. Are you suggesting disallowing those? No Military ballots?

Everyone who is allowed to vote should be able to vote, yes.

Posted by jk at November 4, 2014 2:57 PM

And Keith brings me to the original thought. I think O'Keefe is borderline at best. I don't care for such Journalism from the left and I am squeamish to applaud it in a cause I champion.

That said, such a shock might have been required. I think it is one more piece of evidence contradicting the "oh, that really doesn't happen" mentality that counts successful prosecutions to gauge the problem.

I'll even pile on another analogy. If you found four people who were unable to cast a ballot for lack of ID, the world would go mad with outrage. But four fraudulent ballots that cancelled four legal ballots is filed under "nothing to see here."

Posted by jk at November 4, 2014 3:03 PM

Y'all are rewarding my bad behavior by commenting on my post. Lesson learned!

How does the printed paper ballot prevent manipulation of the count totals back at Hillary Hall's Boulder County Clerk's Office? By all quarter million BoCo voters standing in line to get their ballots scanned and recounted by an independent auditor?

Yes, of course I agree that technology exists to create an honest, transparent, auditable and "truly verifiable voting system." But that fact doesn't translate to "every electronic voting system that appears to be incorruptible, is incorruptible." How are we to know? Faith is the only answer.

Able to vote? Yes, absolutely. Required, obligated, coerced, or any other artificial motivation? No.

Posted by johngalt at November 4, 2014 3:24 PM

You heard it here first: "Colorado Looking Good?"

Enjoy the comments.

Posted by Keith Arnold at November 4, 2014 3:41 PM

This was my favorite comment:

I won't stop worrying about the fraud from Boulder and Denver till the #s are announced. I was so hopeful in '12, I had never seen so many R signs and bumper stickers but the cheat districts cranked out so many votes that the higher GOP #s in honest counties were overwhelmed.

And as I linked in a comment yesterday, there's reason to suspect the same thing today in the CO governor's race. (Even dagny is suspicious, and she is the model of non-tin-foil-hattery.)

Posted by johngalt at November 5, 2014 11:37 AM

When I woke up to "it's tight but they're still counting in Denver and Boulder Counties" I got a sinking feeling. I'll take Reynolds wrap, glossy-side out in a 8-1/8, but that's how LBJ did it. "His" counties counted last -- how many do you need?

If it's a five digit lead at the end, I will withdraw, but after big changes facilitating fraud, losing a close one hurts.

Posted by jk at November 5, 2014 11:59 AM

On the other hand, Bob proved to be a crappy candidate. Cory was likeable and telegenic and talked about fresh ideas. Bob did none of those things. (Gessler would have, though.)

Bob earned 40-some thousand votes fewer than Cory.
Udall earne 50-some thousand votes fewer than Hick.

Even if the D's did "steal" the election with ballot stuffing, they only had the opportunity because R's gave them a weak opponent. The other races were won by R's with margins comparable to Gardner's.

Plus - I did some egghead comparisons of early vote returns to final vote totals. I'll spare the details here but I didn't find anything overtly fishy.

Posted by johngalt at November 5, 2014 12:23 PM

Agreed an all parts. There's a 20K spread as I type -- I'd call that a real loss.

I mention in my gloating post that I received an apology from a libertario delenda est friend. I don't want to pile on but need to tell him that I need him more in the primary. Of course, he's way too cool to be a Republican... Hrrmph.

Posted by jk at November 5, 2014 1:01 PM

Try to sell him on being a secret agent Libertarian, behind enemy Republican lines. Perhaps, like Susana Martinez (another big win last night) he'll find it wasn't what he thought it was.

Posted by johngalt at November 5, 2014 1:51 PM
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