Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bell electronic voting counting in Quebec

I mentioned in previous postings about the Quebec 2005 municipal electronic voting problems that Bell was also a supplier (although, AFAIK, not implicated in the issues that were reported). (For more info on that situation, see previous postings list of voting machines used in Quebec municipal elections 2005 and Montreal's electronic vote: what went wrong.)

I couldn't find a Bell link at the time, but I finally ran across one. Quite a splash they have across their page. Starts with a teaser

[Bell e-voting teaser]

that leads to a full page of info. I particularly liked their list of e-voting benefits
Electronic compilation of results

The electronic compilation devices used by Bell Business Solutions ensure efficiency, thoroughness and integrity throughout the voting process, whether for a municipal or school board election, referendum or any other consultation.

Simplified functions

* Simple and quick voting process
* Objective counting of ballots (with no human involvement)
* Major reduction of electoral staff
* Fewer duties for electoral staff
* Fast disclosure of results

Let's see, so in summary: it's fast and there are fewer people. Ah. Efficiency! How we worship you! Our voting must now be PRODUCTIVE! Maybe we should eliminate humans from the voting process altogether, and let the machines objectively decide our fate.

Objective with no human involvement?
Um, so the machines programmed themselves did they?

What you mean is, some computer code written by humans you don't know, in the United States, not reviewed by any humans in Canada, will decide the results of the election according to their programmed whims, with no humans to verify the results.

Ah, progress!

They used the Accu-Vote ES, which is a mark-sense reader
Accu-Vote ES electronic ballot box

The Accu-Vote ES system uses an optical reader to record votes on a memory card as ballots are being cast. It considerably simplifies the electoral process for everyone involved and guarantees that the final results will remain secret until the polls close.

In Québec, since 1995, more than 120 cities and municipalities have successfully used vote counting devices. More than 4 million ballots have been recorded by voters during these elections.

The Accu-Vote is made by everyone's favorite reliable, trust-worthy electronic voting machine company: Diebold. Here's a look at their Accu-Vote OS scanner.

- are there any Canadian standards these machines were tested against?
- were these machines tested against any US standards?
- does anyone test these machines at all?
- are these machines Bell owns, or do they lease them from the US?
- who guards these machines when they're not in use?

Bell: Elections made simple

Err, simpler than humans marking an X on paper and then humans counting it?

Who said elections were complicated?
How about elections maintained completely trustworthy and accurate?

I leave you to contemplate the shiny map of electronic vote-counting progress

[Bell - elections villes]
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