It's Time to End the So-Called 'Voter Verified Paper Trail' Nonsense
Even VotersUnite.org Now Agrees...
Sunday's short NY Times editorial, titled "Déjà Vu in Florida," concerning the mess in Sarasota's FL-13 U.S. House race between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R) (369 votes difference, 18,000 missing votes on the paperless ES&S touch-screen systems in Jennings' strongest county) gets much right. But on one huge point, they get it completely wrong.
First...Here's the highlight graf amongst the stuff they got right:
The campaign wants its experts to review the machines' secret computer source code, the programming that runs the computer inside the machine, to look for problems. Election Systems and Software, the company that made the machines, is not saying whether it will allow this. If it resists, the courts should order the company to hand over the code -- a requirement that should, in fact, be routine in all places where electronic voting machines are used.
Agreed. Wholeheartedly. 'Nuff said.
But here's the lowlight graf, in which they get it all wrong at the conclusion of the editorial:
As Ms. Jennings's suit proceeds, we should learn more about what, if anything, went wrong, and what the options are if any remedies are needed. But one verdict is already in: electronic voting without the full array of protections, including a voter-verified paper trail, is unacceptable.
A so-called "voter-verified paper trail" on Sarasota's touch-screen systems would not have solved the problem in Florida. I'll have more on this issue in the coming days, but suffice to say for now: Paper trails, such as they are used with DRE/Touch-Screen systems do not work. Voters don't verify them, elections officials don't count them, they are not accurate, they can be gamed, they jam the printers which leads to voters being turned away without being able to vote...among just a few of the reasons.
VotersUnite.org has now come out with a complete statement on why even they are no longer willing to support voter verified paper audit trails (VVPAT) and thus, they will not support Rep. Rush Holt's otherwise well-intentioned HR550 legislation as long as it allows for VVPAT. Neither will we. More on all of that soon as well.
In the meantime, I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it...louder and louder each time if necessary: America needs a paper BALLOT for every vote cast.
I hope you'll join me in that call. I'll try to make it easier for you to do so in the coming days.
If there's one thing the events of Election 2006 have made crystal clear, it's that the VVPAT train wreck ahead needs to be derailed immediately. The New York Times (no surprise) is clueless there. But, at this point, there is no longer any excuse for any self-respecting Election Integrity organization to keep their heads in the sand on this one.
BREAKING UPDATE: Please note, since posting this story earlier this morning, a blockbuster has occured. The National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), the federal body responsible for creating the federal Voting System Standards (such as we have any), has recommended that all touch-screen DRE voting systems should be decertified! Further, apropos of my story above, they've said that so-called VVPAT's do not work and should not be used with touch-screen systems! Complete breaking story posted here...