A bipartisan, GOP-led voting machine security bill that would actually fix vulnerabilities in US elections

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/03/secure-elections-act.html


It still uses electronic voting machines = no fix.

Why? Because fraudsters adapt.

(Gosh - the paper receipt rollers seemed to have jammed. And look! The actual paper copies are being shredded and faked new ones have replaced them [already documented in at least one heavily Republican precinct, btw] - no matter, we go with the ->electronic<- counts anyway, with an Act of God needed to instigate, let alone pay for a manual recount)

And voting machines cost a lot of money and are not equally-distributed to lower income (read: “Democratic”) districts. And guess what seems to happen? The few Democratic district machines they receive don’t work reliably. Oopsie!

Sorry, but paper ballots work just fine in Germany at a fraction of the cost, with virtually zero possibility of fraud, and with every darn ballot - provisional, write-ins, mailed-ins or not - scrutinized by at least two competing pairs of eyes.

Somehow, our system managed to operate without them for two hundred years. Voting machines are bull****.


Here comes Trump’s first presidential veto!


Any bets on whether or not someone will attach a ACA killing amendment?


Unsurprising that a University of Michigan researcher would suggest optical scan paper ballots - that’s what we use in Michigan.


Wait, is this good news? Is this a GOP bill that is actually good? Should we be… happy?


The bill has three Republican co-sponsors

I don’t think they got the memo from RNC headquarters. How can the GOP expect to stay relevant when they’re trying to close off ways to cheat?


And in WA. Recount? Just run it through a different scanner and you can people verify if required.
Also we are mail in only for the state. Voting is so much nicer when you can sit down with the ballot and take your time. Also we get a voters guide with full text of initiatives/bills and full candidate statements.


That’d be great to get, along with the mail-in ballots, but Michigan is a Gerrymandered, GOP controlled state, so we can’t have nice things. For example, the only reason the whole state went to scanners is the “voter fraud” that put Obama in office.


What good is a paper tape receipt if it can void it and print a new one while you are on the way out of the booth?

(I can’t prove it, but I caught one doing that 13 years ago.)


Let me be clear: the only voting machine I would trust would be one that spits out a human readable completed ballot that the voter verifies, then delivers to a sealed ballot box with chain of custody control until the completed, human verifiable ballots are counted.

In other words, a very expensive #2 pencil.


This is pretty much exactly what’s being proposed. A “scan-tron” type of voting where you fill in the bubble and your ballot is counted electronically, with the original paper kept under lock and key for auditing.

Beyond that, and also extremely important, is standardized auditing of all elections. Depending on how close an election was, these audits would count more or fewer ballots to come up with a statistically defensible certification of all elections.

There are a number of misconceptions in these comments. I highly recommend reading the Ars Technica article that Cory linked. This is a great bill, and we should all press our representatives to pass it, as soon as possible.


That’s at least one step more complicated and less secure than many of the voting machines already in service, because you could theoretically tamper with a machine to spit out a human-readable ballot that shows different information than what was actually recorded (and even that assumes voters will take the time to read over their paper receipts).

In California and several other states we fill out simple, clearly human-and-machine-readable ballots by hand and feed them into the machines ourselves. If there is every any reason to believe a machine has been tampered with the original hand-marked ballots are still kept on hand for independent verification.


Fill in the bubble, or connect the line, or whatever electronically read paper hand marked ballot systems are also better because they are far more robust.

With ANY kind of complicated machine required for filling in the ballots the machine can easily become a choke point.

When all you need to fill out the ballot is a reasonably dark marking instrument, a vaguely flat dry spot, and enough light to read it is far easier to scale up some or to shoulder through problems.

I was once at a ballot place in California and, due to a logistical screw-up they had very few pens. The 8 or so people in the line inside the building happened to be holding 5 pens good enough for ballot filling and gave them to the polling station while one of the poll workers ran off to a drugstore to buy a sack of pens.

I was once at a polling place who’s scanner machine broke. They just had a backup cardboard box, and would later take the ballots back to the central office for counting.

One time in Seattle the power went out at a polling place. As it was still daytime they pushed the little tables over near the windows.

With any electronic vote entry system each of those polling places would have been crippled.


I afraid I didn’t explain myself very well. The front end machine would only mark the ballot for the user, minding overvote and stray marks. The tally would be done by a machine or human reading the ballots.

Scantrons are a more effective way of doing this. My local officials offer a lot of excuses as to why they aren’t any good but the unspoken one is that they can’t hijack an election with them.

If the ballot is delivered to the user’s hands in a way that they can read and understand and that is the ballot that is counted, at least there is a better chance that the election might be fair.


Why bother using a machine for filling-out part at all, though?

Our ballots are even easier to read and fill out than scantron bubble forms. You just use a pen to connect a line next to the candidate or issue you’re voting for. Plus, since they have to be filled out by a human, you couldn’t program a machine to automatically fill out thousands of fraudulent ballots.


Because there are people who don’t exactly follow directions. Many hours have been spent in court arguing whether or not this or that mark should be counted as a vote.


That was when there were issues like partially-erased pencil marks and hanging chads. A felt-tipped pen is more binary: either a voter made a mark between those two points or they didn’t.


But suppose the voter instead circled the name of the candidate. Should be vote not be counted because the voter didn’t follow the rules although a choice was clearly indicated?

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The problem is when there are multiple marks which may or may not show signs of attempts to correct. Fortunately this is rare enough that just ignoring them is generally safe.

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