Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Geist on e-voting

The ubiquitous Michael Geist had a good article last month, Time To Cast A Vote Against E-Voting

Democracy depends upon a fair, accurate, and transparent electoral process with outcomes that can be independently verified. Conventional voting accomplishes many of these goals - private polling stations enable citizens to cast their votes anonymously, election day scrutineers offer independent oversight, and paper-based ballots provide a verifiable outcome that can be re-counted if necessary.

While technology may someday allow us to replicate these essential features online, many of them are currently absent from Internet voting, which is subject to any number of possible disruptions, including denial of service attacks that shut down the election process, hacks into the election system, or the insertion of computer viruses that tamper with election results.

Electronic voting machines are similarly prone to error. Last year the City of Montreal implemented an electronic voting system that was later characterized as a "debacle" with delays, equipment malfunctions, and erroneous results. The City acknowledged that some of the electronic voting machines were "lemons" - voting too quickly caused the machines to breakdown, while 45,000 ballots were counted twice (an error corrected before the results were announced).

Both Internet and electronic voting are also unable to guarantee independent verification. Unlike paper, electronic votes are subject to manipulation, placing enormous power in the hands of the electronic voting machine companies who must ensure tamper-free results.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ontario municipal elections - Nov 13, 2006

For general information about this event see Wikipedia - Ontario municipal elections, 2006.

I voted today in Ottawa, I believe the counting system is a Diebold Accuvote OS.

As I saw my ballot slide silently into the machine with its prominent "Accu Vote" logo, I thought about how these machines silently kill the humanity of the voting process.

Plus which, you get this flimsy paper "voting shield", which they still have to open up in case your ballot is upside down (in which case, they see who you voted for), or backwards (apparently the genius counting machine can't handle backwards ballots).
The whole thing makes you feel like voting is a slipshod yet automated process, neither of which should be the impression left with citizens.

I encourage you to vote today, if applicable.
If you don't like voting on these machines, the first step is to contact your city councilor and mayor, and make them aware of your displeasure, and also of the costs associated with voting machines.

I am also happy to re-print any experiences (positive or negative) you have had with voting machines today. Just send me an email and include a line to the effect of "you have my permission to reprint this report in your blog".

On a side note, I saw with dismay that TD Bank's exciting new ATM's are made by... Diebold. Oh great, now they're handling my money too.
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