Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Is there some sort of election going on?

I can't vote in today's election for an obvious reason and to be blunt I don't care too much who gets in; I have a preference, but once installed I doubt either will really act in a way any different from the other. However what is interesting is not the results of the vote, but how that vote is being carried out.

Electronic voting machines are the hot-topic of discussion, tales of vote-switching, reports on the ability to 'break' them, and clumsy interfaces that can leave a voter the impression they've voted when they haven't. But these are the waving hands, the misdirection that conceals methods that were used during the 2000 election and are still being used today.

Voters Unite is keeping a track of problems, some more serious then others, then are ongoing. The Colorado Independent has the tale of their Secretary of State still "purging" voters from the electoral rolls not only within 90 days of the vote, but of still doing so even after being taken to court for it.

In Florida (sigh) we discover that high-speed optical devices are reading creases as votes in absentee ballots thus kicking them out as overvotes.

In New Jersey some registrations that came in near the cut-off date don't appear on the electoral rolls, although some of the counties are printing supplemental books some are asking voters to cast provincial ballots. Best quote:

"They're all valid registrations, and their votes will be counted. But the numbers were so large, we didn't have time ... to get them into the poll books so they can vote in the machines."
I kind of thought that was the point of a deadline. Sure they had a lot of new voters which swamped the checking procedure, but any idiot could have predicted that.

Perhaps we could sell our system to the Americans - Utilising a flexible, mark-retentive material to be used in conjunction with a precision engineered graphite tube, with the votes being processed via high-security black-box containers to be counted using the latest in AI-driven optical-recognition hardware. Current configuration provides the capability to process over 27 million votes in approximately 8 hours, but is highly-scalable to allow for differing situations.


Anyway check through the Voters Unite site for more scariness and thank our system that for the majority we still use paper and pencil and have our votes counted by hand.


Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with counting votes electronically — if you do it properly.

Everything hangs on that last part: This is a government operation, remember? ;-)

FlipC said...

Exactly. In the same way there's nothing wrong with ID cards it's merely how they're doing it and what information they're recording.

If it was simply a biometric, name, and age with a unique tag - no problem. But they want to add in dozen other fields and then because they're recording this extra information they're ring-fencing off the 'important' people's details.

Talk about equal protection under the law