The electronic votes said he lost in a statistically impossible landslide, but the paper ballots said he won

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/12/02/the-electronic-votes-said-he-l.html

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You mean a republican prepared to put democracy ahead of Winning At Any Cost? I didn’t think there were any left.

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[Cynic] Or she realized the error was so glaringly obvious it would inevitably come out, and there was no way anyone would believe she hadn’t spotted it if she didn’t speak up. [/Cynic]

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It goes without saying that if the machines had been compromised in a different way then the paper backup ballots would be compromised as well. Even as it is, there will doubtlessly be some Republicans who insist the electronic record is accurate and the paper ballots are the ones in error.

That’s why the best ballot systems use paper ballots that are filled out by hand and counted by machine instead of entrusting the machines to generate accurate records. You can always reserve touchscreen interfaces for those voters who lack the manual dexterity to use a felt-tip pen.

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And if the error hadn’t been absurdly obvious, it probably wouldn’t have been found. Intentional miscounting is likely to be less obvious. This is why it is REALLY important to
sample random precincts and compare the paper ballots to the machine tally.

The other advantage of that system is that only one or two expensive vote tally machines is required per polling place. That in turn implies shorter lines to vote.

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Electronic voting is definitely one of those things that may have sounded like a good idea in the beginning, but now that it’s been demonstrated to be so obviously bad, time and again, why is anyone still using it? At least this one included a paper trail, but what if the tally had been close enough to seem reasonable, but not so close as to initiate a recount by hand?

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Presumably that’s why so many states don’t do it that way—“fewer machines per polling place” is an advantage for the voters and the taxpayers, but it’s a major disadvantage if you’re a lobbyist for a voting machine manufacturer.

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Has there ever been a single documented case where one of these “bugs” has NOT benefitted Republicans?

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the bug in the software could very easily have also effected the paper backup if they are both coming from the same machine.

Does the voter have the right, is there a way, to review the paper backup when i am done voting?

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Why does that go without saying? The linked NYT story refers to “voter-verified paper ballots” (my emphasis), which implies that the paper ballots are human-readable and subject to challenge if they don’t reflect the voter’s intent.

I do agree that machine-readable paper forms seem more desirable for a number of reasons, including but not limited to the near-certainty that not all voters will carefully review their “voter-verified paper ballot”.

See above – “voter-verified”.

Also, for what it’s worth, here’s the manufacturer’s bumph. “The ExpressVote XL produces a paper vote summary card that provides voters with the opportunity to review their selections and verify that their vote was recorded accurately before submitting for tabulation. The vote summary card also serves as an audit trail for election officials.”

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The latter part of your statement is what I thought went without saying, but you went ahead and said it so I guess we’re all set now either way.

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Hey, I grew up there! Nothing much to add beyond that – I got the hell out of there at 18.

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Oh I see. Despite the fact I called out the vulnerability, I’m somewhat less concerned about it, because it seems like a pretty risky game to play, altering the vote on the paper printout. All you need is one voter to notice, plus a diligent election team, and the jig is up.

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If the people in charge of our elections were reliably competent and dedicated to securely and accurately counting votes then we wouldn’t see these kinds of machines in the first place.

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With voting machines like those in our country, one might be forgiven for thinking that democracy isn’t as big a priority in America as our propaganda makes it out to be.

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This “summary card” also just shows what the machine perceives you to have done, right or wrong, and it’s the machine’s word against yours what actually happened. A paper ballot shows what you actually did so error is a plain-as-day fact. To dispute a post-facto “summary” you have to be the kind of person who not only wants to make a fuss about the summary being wrong, but also feels comfortable saying that you understood the technology well enough that you are sure you are right, and sure the machine was wrong. If not, you could face the embarrassment of doubt in your ability (and sanity) from even a well-meaning and polite poll worker. A poll worker with a political bias, or just a bad attitude could make things even worse.

And what exactly happens when you say the machine got it wrong? You vote again? Go to the back of the line? Go to a special table and “wait to be helped?”

Paper first, then machine.

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Right; imagine a scenario in which the machine is programmed to flip 1 in 5 Democratic votes for the Republican. So the Democratic voter gets a receipt and maybe 1 in 10 carefully checks it for accuracy. “Wait!” they protest—“this recorded my vote wrong!” So the poll worker rolls their eyes and lets them cast their vote again, and this time the receipt shows the correct result. The initial vote is chalked up to user error. Meanwhile, 90% of the miscast votes are recorded without attracting further attention.

This scenario should not be possible, and there’s no excuse for designing the system this way.

We’ve had Scantron technology for standardized tests since at least the 1970s. There’s no reason we shouldn’t use similar tech for counting votes.

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rupaul-this

But this answer is that someone is making money off electronic voting, that’s it. We’re so god damn invested in the capitalist system that we think if it lines someone’s pockets, it’s a net win, no matter what other consequences there are.

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So someone should make a scantron device that erases and reassigns the marks while scanning. Or was that not the point?

We use scantron for our municipal elections and old school hand counted for federal elections here. Other than for the manufacturers, I cannot think of much benefit from electronic voting machines.

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This is essentially the system used in the State of Maryland since 2016 after the state discontinued its touchscreen voting machines. Hand mark paper ballot, deliver to optical scanner that deposits ballot in box. Assistive devices (touch screens, audio prompts, precinct employees) are available for those that require them.

However, There are a series of lawsuits by the National Federation of the Blind alleging that the separate and unequal voting experience for disabled voters is illegal and they would like to force all voters to use these ExpressVote machines. Crucially, “ExpressVote paper ballots are a different size and shape than paper ballots filled out by hand, making those votes cast by Marylanders with disabilities immediately identifiable, advocates say.” The State Board of Elections does not want to use them because cost, complexity and other issues… The State Board of Elections currently makes sure at least some number of able bodied individuals in each voting precinct (say 5) use the assistive devices so that no one vote could be attributed to a voter requiring assistance. But this practice isn’t perfect and some precincts in some elections weren’t able to meet that requirement.

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