mm292: Voting technology: –Fragmented, fragile, in flux–

MUDGE’S Musings

All of this fancy electronic equipment we’ve been blithely voting with… how accurate is it, really? And even those paper ballots and those infamous hanging chad laden punch cards… how careful, how bullet proof is the counting and authentication process?

This is a topic that during this marathon of an election season continues to trouble yr (justifiably) humble svt, so much so that we’ve tackled it a couple of times over the past few months (here and here most recently).

ars technica is a site that stirs guilty feelings, as one never gets there frequently enough. Tonight, as is typical, the long delayed visit was rewarded by a fresh look at the topic of ballot authentication.

arstechnica

Analysis: e-voting’s success rests on chain-of-custody issue

By Jon Stokes | Published: February 21, 2008 – 05:41AM CT
The 2008 election cycle is turning out to be a bonanza for political junkies from across the ideological spectrum, as an open field and roller-coaster primaries in both major parties have combined to increase primary voter turnout to record levels. This massive turnout, which may well be a preview of what we can expect in November’s contest, has functioned as a large-scale stress test on an electronic voting infrastructure that’s fragmented, fragile, and still in flux.
As the year progresses, I’ll be zeroing in on different aspects of electronic voting in a series of posts aimed at keeping you up to speed and preparing you to read the pre- and post-election press coverage with a critical eye. The first issue that I want to tackle in this post is fundamental for election integrity, and its importance is typically underestimated by reporters who are focused on the more spectacular “hacking”-related narratives that will probably be a persistent feature of America’s election coverage from here on out. This issue is ballot chain of custody, and it’s absolutely critical.

His frightening example is a video from the recent New Hampshire primary. Ghastly.

If the ballot chain of custody situation in the other 49 states is even one third as appalling as it is in New Hampshire, then we’re in for quite a mess in the case of a close general election in November. I, for one, pray for a landslide blowout, because in an even remotely close election the prospects that state governments will be able to meet the burden of proof that the public will demand is passing dim.

Analysis: e-voting’s success rests on chain-of-custody issue

The usual citizen apathy is what the thieves are counting on.

There is ample room for well intended but sloppy handling. And one begins to see that the mischief makers, who intend mischief of a seemingly Republican bent (Florida 2000, anyone?), will have to be watched much more closely than we’re accustomed to, warned though we were.

As Stokes recommends, the voters’ best friend and protector of the sanctity of our cast ballots this year might be our video cameras, even those video cameras in our cell phones.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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