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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

close races and recounts

The electronic voting perspective on recounts seems to be
1) they will be easy
2) (perhaps) they happen rarely

But what's important recounts is not how quickly they happen (in fact, "speed" is an odd thing to make paramount in vote counting). What is important is how confident the people are in the result.

Anyone can understand a paper ballot recount, and the routes for challenge are quite limited. This is important, because elections ultimately transfer power from many people, to one. There are over 400 House seats in the US, and about 300 million citizens. That's a huge transfer of power, from hundreds of millions, to hundreds.

The routes of challenge for electronic vote counts are almost limitless.
You could challenge:
1) the manufacturer
2) the programmers
3) the software
4) individual machines
5) the people managing the machines on voting day
6) voters - potential hacking by individual voters
7) chain of custody on the machines or the memory cards

And probably more I haven't though of.
And even worse, many of those challenges are almost impossible to resolve.

This is bad, because close elections requiring recounts actually happen ALL THE TIME.
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