I am very, very nervous. Or maybe fearful is a better word for what I feel every time I let myself think about Barack Obama, the first person of color, to be freely elected to be our next President of our United States.
They’ve been playing some documentaries on the “stolen elections” of 2000 and 2004, like “Recount” or “Hacking Democracy” for instance, that have been driving me absolutely crazy and reminding me of several things like:
1) how fragile our election process is,
2) the lengths that the “opposition” will go to to achieve their aims
Our election process has been compromised in so many ways that the solution to it seems out of reach.
Much of the debate has been about the machines used to aggregate and count the individual votes. No matter which machine is used, it is all too easy to “hack” and manipulate them.
Since the 2000 election debacle, optical scanners have become the most common U.S. voting technology. Voters fill in a bubble next to a candidate's name on a paper ballot and feed it into the scanner. The scanners tally votes automatically, saving time, but they also leave a paper trail that can be hand audited.
Even optical scanners can misread stray marks, however, and any voting machine can be tampered with after the fact. But a cryptographic system developed under the leadership of electronic-cash pioneer David Chaum can guarantee that every vote cast using an optical scanner is correctly recorded.
In the voting booth, instead of filling in a bubble in pencil, the voter uses a special pen to reveal a code printed inside the bubble in invisible ink. Later, the voter can enter the ballot's serial number on an election website, which looks up the ballot and displays the associated code. If the code matches the one exposed in the booth, the vote was correctly tallied. But because the codes are never publicly correlated with candidates' names, the voter's privacy is maintained--and there's no evidence to give to would-be vote buyers.
Until now, it's been easy to dismiss cryptographic voting systems as academic exercises, but the fact that the new system is designed to work with optical scanning gives Chaum hope that it will catch on. "We're ready," he says. "There's no risk. If you add it on, it doesn't interfere with what you had, and if there's a problem with it, you can just ignore it."
Tamper-proof tally: A new cryptographic system can guarantee that votes cast using optical scanners are counted correctly. (1) The voter uses a decoder pen to expose a unique, randomly generated code printed in invisible ink next to a candidate's name. (2) The voter writes the code on a detachable receipt marked with the ballot's serial number. (3) An ordinary optical scanner reads the ballot, just as it would one marked in pencil. (4) At home, the voter enters the ballot's serial number on an election website. If the site pulls up the corresponding code, the vote was recorded accurately
AROUND the BLOGOSPHERE:
Voting Rights Watch: One company's machine behind vote-switching ... - Coincidentally, the woman who had her vote flipped is the wife of David Earnhardt, the producer and director of "Uncounted" -- a documentary film about problem voting machines. * In Palo Pinto County, Texas, at least two voters say ...
Want to Hack an E-Voting Machine in 7 Minutes? - Seems that the software problem could drop ballot totals for entire voting precincts. Oops. Next Tuesday night and Wednesday morning could get very interesting wherever there are close elections and e-voting machines have been used. ...
Democrats Describe Efforts to Limit Voting Machines Problems - As early voting has begun across the country, there have many news reports of electronic voting machine problems: from votes for president jumping between candidates on touch screens in West Virginia and Texas, to computer scanners not ...
ELECTION DAY TEST LOOMS FOR NEW VOTING DEVICES - As time has passed, some voting integrity advocates have come to see New York’s delay in approving voting machines as a virtue. Other states that already purchased new voting systems have experienced problems that New York, ...