Sunday, December 03, 2006

Schneier on Voting Irregularities

Bruce Schneier, whom I've cited before, has four consecutive articles on voting issues in the current issue of his newsletter Crypto-Gram. The first two discuss errors (and possibly, fraud) in tabulating votes. In the second article, he says:

I'm happy to see a Republican at the receiving end of the problems.

Actually, that's not true. I'm not happy to see anyone at the receiving end of voting problems. But I am sick and tired of this being perceived as a partisan issue, and I hope some high-profile Republican losses that might be attributed to electronic voting-machine malfunctions (or even fraud) will change that perception. This is a serious problem that affects everyone, and it is in everyone's interest to fix it.

I tend to agree with him, it's nice to see Republicans bitching about election fraud.

On the other hand, all four articles -- the first four in the issue -- paint a rather bleak picture of the accuracy of elections these days.

If you don't read Crypto-Gram on a regular basis, you should.

1 comment:

  1. American elections have always been somewhat of a farce, from the Presidential election of 1876 where the KKK set up their own parallel set of voting booths in the South, used their paramilitaries to keep blacks from voting at the official voting booths, then proclaimed themselves the "winners" of the state elections and proclaimed Tilden the "winner" of the Presidential election (hold it, didn't Hayes win that election? Err... sort of, google "Hayes-Tilden Compromise" for complete details of the farce), to LBJ's infamous "Box 13" that led to his election to the Senate in 1948, American elections have been filled with fraud, chicanery, and outright incompetence that makes overall vote totals somewhat less than reflective of the will of the people.

    Electronic voting changes none of this, other than change the scale of the fraud, incompetence, and chicanery. Rather than thousands of local sheriffs and voter registrars, you have a half dozen voting machine companies. So any fraud takes place on a far wider scale than what Boss Parr could do for LBJ in 1948. It basically takes what was a local problem, and gives it a national scale.

    Frankly, if votes were accounted for using the same rules that the IRS requires when we account for money, every voting machine company executive in America that does not produce a verifiable paper trail would be going to jail for income tax fraud err vote fraud. Have you ever wondered why ATM machines make all that buzzing and clunking noise as if printing a receipt even if you did not request a receipt? It's because they're printing the transaction on a continuous paper roll inside the machine, a paper roll which then becomes the permenant record that auditors can look at if there are ever any questions about the transactions on a particular day. If the ATM vendors didn't do this, the banking commission and IRS would send them to jail. Why are votes less important than money in the USA? Oh wait, I already know the answer to that question :-}.

    - Badtux the Voting Penguin