Tuesday, October 05, 2004

who shall counter the counters?

This is the scope of the efforts of people in the United States just to try to monitor the e-voting machines and issues associated with them on voting day.

computer scientists focused on thoroughly evaluating the technical aspects of e-voting machines. This task will be left to more than 1,400 techies participating in a domestic monitoring project of the Election Protection coalition, organized by almost 60 U.S. groups.

The coalition will disperse 25,000 monitors to voting sites in 17 states around the country. One of the coalition's projects is TechWatch, run by the Verified Voting Foundation. TechWatch has recruited technology professionals to observe the operation of voting technology during tests before the election and on Election Day itself.

The Verified Voting Foundation has also developed a web-based software application that will allow coalition volunteers to respond to voting incidents in real time. The coalition runs a hot line that voters can call to report problems. When they do, hot-line operators enter the details into the Election Incident Reporting System. The system maps the problems and sends an alert to a monitoring team leader in the area, who can then dispatch a mobile response team of volunteer lawyers, techies or others to observe how the problem is handled.

The groups tested the system during the Florida primary election, when 296 hot-line calls were entered into the system, of which 18 were voting machine problems.

Another group, Votewatch, will collect statistical data on the election. Among other things, Votewatch will compare the vote tallies posted in polling places at the end of the day with cumulative unofficial counts for an entire area reported later that night. If the numbers differ, it would indicate that the counting software at individual polling places failed to count some votes. Volunteers would make note of the technology that was used at those polling places to gather statistics on the accuracy of systems.

The Election Protection coalition also includes groups that will monitor issues besides voting technology, including voter intimidation and disenfranchisement.

Does that sound to you like an improved, less-expensive voting system that people trust?

Wired News - Oct. 05, 2004
U.S. Elections Under a Microscope
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