Of Hand Counts and Voting Machines

At this point, we cannot design a [fully verifiable electronic election system], nor can anyone else. Computer systems are so complicated, that there is no single person that understands everything about how they work.

David Dill

After taking a look at the 2004 election in Ohio and America’s history of dirty elections, we’re thinking of a couple more shows about elections in America. Up first: the way we mark and count our ballots.

Are digital voting machines the way to go? Digital Voting Machines are twenty years old now; why have they become so much more prevalent in the last two election cycles? Are they safer if they use an open software standard? Does a physical record ensure an accurate re-count? The national media has been focusing on national elections; do voting practices have an impact on local elections? Do we need better Federal guidelines on voting practices?

Andrew Gumbel

U.S. correspondent, Independent

Author, Steal This Vote

David Dill

Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University

Michael Shamos

Professor of Computer Science and Co-Director of the Insitute for eCommerce, Carnegie Mellon University

Gregory Luke

Associate, Strumwasser & Woocher LLP

Extra Credit Reading

Andrew Gumbel, The Coming Ballot Meltdown, The Nation, June 28, 2006.

Zachary Goldfarb, A Single Person Could Swing an Election, The Washington Post, June 28, 2006.

Dan Tokaji, Brennan Center Report on Voting Technology, Equal Vote Blog, June 27, 2006.

Steven Kreytak, Electronic voting lawsuit may be decided soon, Austin American Statesman, July 7, 2006.

Thad Van Ry, I voted electronically!, Woods Cross Citizen, June 27, 2006.

Tim Grieve, One hacker, a little wi-fi, … and an election victory can be yours, War Room, Salon, June 28, 2006.

Kelly Alvarez Mace, A Riverside County voting experience, Election Updates, November 5, 2005.

Related Content


  • Mark Wolfe

    The issue is accountability.

    In Thailand, I can use an ATM to deposit money…a little door opens and I stuff in bills and it counts them and then spits out a slip with how much I put in. But the fact is I never use this feature; to whom (or what) would I appeal if the numbers were wrong? The teller would say that the machine is never wrong, just as election workers would say that the software never lies.

    Whether or not a voting system is infallible isn’t the question; the question is: Can a human be assured that accuracy has been maintained through tangible evidence?

    If our society gets to the point where we trust machines implicitly, we can have computerized voting. Are we there yet?

    Mark Wolfe

    Koh Samui, Thailand

  • You folks pay obesiance to George Lakoff and talk about “framing issues” but seem incapable of actually doing it. This voting business can be summed up in two, simple, alliterative words, “Diebold Democracy.” (I CAN’T be the only person who has thought of this.) It is a “tax-relief” kind of phrase that everybody can understand immediately. I vaguely remember a news story that the president of Diebold said that he would do all in his power to assure the victory of George Bush in the last election (is this right?).

    On the other hand, maybe we need to reduce this election to a single referrendum – yes / no – “Voting is a pain in the ass, let’s not bother any more.” If the majority of Americans agree, we already have rulers in place eager to tell us what to do. If not, then let us have a real election.

    Dan Lynch, Jamaica Plain

  • Mark Wolfe

    Published on Thursday, August 28, 2003 by the Cleveland Plain Dealer

    Voting Machine Controversy

    by Julie Carr Smyth

    COLUMBUS – The head of a company vying to sell voting machines in Ohio told Republicans in a recent fund-raising letter that he is “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.”

    The Aug. 14 letter from Walden O’Dell, chief executive of Diebold Inc. – who has become active in the re-election effort of President Bush – prompted Democrats this week to question the propriety of allowing O’Dell’s company to calculate votes in the 2004 presidential election.

    O’Dell attended a strategy pow-wow with wealthy Bush benefactors – known as Rangers and Pioneers – at the president’s Crawford, Texas, ranch earlier this month. The next week, he penned invitations to a $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser to benefit the Ohio Republican Party’s federal campaign fund – partially benefiting Bush – at his mansion in the Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington.

    The letter went out the day before Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, also a Republican, was set to qualify Diebold as one of three firms eligible to sell upgraded electronic voting machines to Ohio counties in time for the 2004 election.

    Blackwell said Diebold is not the only company with political connections – noting that lobbyists for voting-machine makers read like a who’s who of Columbus’ powerful and politically connected.

    “Let me put it to you this way: If there was one person uniquely involved in the political process, that might be troubling,” he said. “But there’s no one that hasn’t used every legitimate avenue and bit of leverage that they could legally use to get their product looked at. Believe me, if there is a political lever to be pulled, all of them have pulled it.”

    —————————-

    So in essence, everyone is ready to put a finger in the pie…or die?

    Mark Wolfe

    Koh Samui, Thailand

  • Speaking as an engineer, the problem of ensuring trust is a technical one. As another poster has already pointed out we trust ATM’s. We trust the computers used to navigate aircraft, the computers in our medical equipment, etc. We can certainly put in place the appropriate technical oversight, auditing and security schemes, if we choose to.

    This is much ado about very little. The real threats to our democracy are voters who don’t have a clue about what’s in the Constitution, who have no idea what’s in the federal budget, who can’t find Iraq on a map, or who don’t know who their elected officials are. We should spend less time worrying about whether we can trust our voting machines and more time worrying about whether we can trust our voters.

  • Truman_Buffett

    Make Elections OPEN SOURCE!

    The issue IS accountability.

    I can’t understand the debates going on in some states about whether it’s okay to have NO PAPER TRAIL with new voting machines. Why we aren’t talking about using new technology to make the system much MORE accountable than it’s ever been before?

    If I mail something at the corner UPS store, I’d get an 18-digit tracking number that would let me FOLLOW my package on-line as it crosses the country. Why couldn’t we come away from the polling place with a tracking number that would let us go on-line and see that our vote was counted correctly.

    If people could think of the act of VOTING as not being finished until they confirmed online that their vote went through, it would cut down on the opportunity for fraud, and where fraud did still occur, it would be easy to spot.

    (for those worried about information about their specific votes being traced through the net – a complete .pdf containing ALL the votes from their polling place could be downloaded, and then OFF-LINE, users could scan for their individual votes)

    (A similar amount of information — about how people vote at individual polling places — is already made public, just not in such a useful format).

    Is there a reason why something like this couldn’t work?

    Truman Buffett

    Seattle, WA

  • Mark Wolfe

    In Thailand, for example, you must enter a voting booth during an election (but you can then not mark the ballot if you choose) as voting is “manditory.” If an electronic system is acceptable in the US, then it could mean down the road that you could vote from the home or office and then it would be easy for a manditory vote to be put into place, which seems a reasonable thing to me.

    Mark Wolfe

    Koh Samui, Thailand

    PS — I didn’t say that I trusted ATMs; I said that I DIDN’T trust them to make a deposit.

  • “it would be easy for a manditory vote to be put into place, which seems a reasonable thing to me.”

    I can’t think of any rational reason to make voting mandatory. We already have too many people voting who probably should not be voting – people who simply don’t have a clue about even the most basic features of the Constitution, the voting records of the candidates, or anything going on in current events.

    The other problem with mandatory voting is that in some cases voting at all is a waste of time. Due to the Electoral College system, if you don’t live in a swing state your individual vote for President doesn’t count. Here in Massachusetts in the last election Kerry would have won regardless of my vote. And my US Congressman was running unopposed!

    Using electronic voting machines as a tool to require forced attendance on election day is EXACTLY the kind of nightmarish scenario that puts people off such technology. You’re proposing to insert Big Brother right into the machine! Since you’re posting from Thailand, all I can say is that such thinking may make sense in a country with a king, but not in a country where a few of us still value our liberty.

  • ruthsg

    Isn’t it interesting that Diebold, who for years has been a leading (THE leading) manufacturer of ATM machines cannot produce a voting machine that a)gives a paper receipt to the voter and b) provides an auditable, uncorruptible paper report that matches banking requirements for accuracy and security?

  • polsmeth

    This issue is accountability — and recountability.

    We need a system that ensures that all legal voters have an equal opportunity to vote as well.

    The concept of the “provisional ballot” that was introduced in the last federal election should be pursued — if everyone used a provisional (it’s really no different than an “absentee”) ballot then voting could occur over several days and at times convenient to the voters.

    Each vot could then be vetted against the registration list, and if a voter sent their vote to the wrong station it could be re-directed to the proper place.

    Those that were not registered but which are legally eligible to vote could be registered in the process — no need for big registration drives before hand (and no bogus handling of registrations). This also treats all voters equally.

    Everyone has a carbon copy of their vote that is sealed when the vote is turned in

    When the vote is turned in the ballot should be marked with an arbitrary random generated number plus say 3 digits of the voter’s choice — they gets that code number written on their sealed copy as part of the process of turning in the votes.

    When the votes are counted there is a tally sheet that shows the votes listed against the random numbers — everyone in that registration station (and only those who have voted there) can check to see that their vote is counted correctly.

    The votes are counted in each station first, then there is a time period where they are checked by those that want to ensure their vote is correct, and also to review those votes where they cannot count them and if there is any dispute or correction the people bring their receipts and their copies to have them corrected.

    If the number of bad votes exceeds the difference between the two top candidates there should be an automatic revote at that station.

    Once all the stations have validated their votes, then the statewide tally begins, and again there is accountability as the state tally lists each station and the total votes — it has to match the validated results of each station. These are validated by the station committees in private state session (to allow free and unbiased revotes wherever they are needed) but those records are published afterwards, along with all the station records.

    There is no need to rush the system — the founding fathers set it up for ballots to travel by horseback from distant states after all — the state by state tally can take place in the electoral college – a dignified tradition instead of a media circus.

    – Paul

  • Umm, Mark, everybody loves quoting that Diebold letter. But you should read the article that Andrew Gumbel wrote, and that Brendan had the good sense to link to above.

    O’Dell’s comment actually helped shine a light on Diebold in Ohio, and, coupled with the research led by Avi Rubin into the source code, “Ken Blackwell decided to order a comprehensive technical review of all touch-screen voting systems and subsequently decided to postpone a major statewide buy of electronic machines until after the 2004 election.”

    As for me, I think vote-by-mail is a fantastic idea.

  • Potter

    Why are we suspicious of the voting machine? Because there are folks who we know want to cheat to win more than than they want an honest election result.

  • How to Run a Clean Election

    What Mexico can teach the United States.

    Mexico is likely to weather the controversy over its photo-finish election despite the protestors that losing candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador brought into the streets on Saturday to claim the election had been stolen. Mexico’s nonpartisan National Election Commission has built up a decade of credibility in running clean elections and international observers have certified the count as fair. Indeed, in its successful efforts to overcome its old reputation for corrupt vote-counting Mexico has a lot to teach the United States.

    Mexico has developed an elaborate system of safeguards to prevent voter fraud. Absentee ballots, which are cast outside the view of election officials and represent the easiest way to commit fraud, are much harder to apply for than in the U.S. Voters must present a valid voter ID card with a photo and imbedded security codes. After they cast a ballot voters–just like those famously pictured in Iraq last year–also have a finger or thumb dipped in indelible purple ink to prevent them from voting again.

    In the U.S. opponents of such anti-fraud measures as photo ID laws claim they will disenfranchise many voters and reduce voter turnout. But John Lott, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, notes that in the three presidential elections Mexico has conducted since the National Election Commission reformed the election laws “68% of eligible citizens have voted, compared to only 59% in the three elections prior to the rule changes.” People are more likely to vote if they believe their ballot will be fairly counted.

    But in the U.S. a growing percentage of people have doubts their votes are recorded properly, whether those doubts stem from concerns about new electronic voting machines or old-style political machines with a reputation for corruption. Residents of cities such as Philadelphia, where there are more registered voters than the number of adults over the age of 18, routinely note that “voting early and often” is a time-honored–and all too real–tradition.

    Photo ID laws are considered one of the most basic and necessary election safeguards by a host of countries including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Britain, India and South Africa. But less than half of U.S. states have any kind of photo ID laws. Opponents continue to claim they are discriminatory. Just last week, a federal judge in Georgia blocked that state’s new photo ID law from taking effect.

    Andrew Young, the former Atlanta mayor and U.N. ambassador, doesn’t see what all the fuss over photo ID is about. In an era when people have to show ID to rent a DVD at Blockbuster or cash a check he told me “requiring ID can help poor people.” He noted that Georgia is deploying a mobile bus to issue voter IDs and allowing groups like the NAACP to arrange for it to go to specific sites such as nursing homes.

    Last year, the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform headed by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker proposed a national photo ID requirement.

    A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in April found that 80% of Americans favored a photo ID requirement, with only 7% opposed. Nonetheless, every Democratic senator lined up in opposition to the McConnell amendment–a clear sign that key liberal interest groups must feel threatened by the idea of ballot security. Mr. McConnell’s amendment survived an attempt to strip it from the immigration bill by a vote of only 49 to 48. Its prospects for becoming law this year are dim.

    Mexico is ahead of the U.S. in ensuring its elections are both free and accurate. We should ask ourselves if we can afford to let that stunning contrast continue. Our next painfully close presidential election may be only a little over two years away. The time to act is now.

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110008630

  • Yark

    CUT THE CRAP !!

    For YEARS there was an attempt to get verifiable paper trail AND THE REPUBLICANS BLOCKED IT.

    Yes the Dems were Gutless but the REPUBS KNEW what was going down: Marginal, but ENOUGH OF A CHEAT TO SWING IT – – we’ve been taken over by a small, Very smart gang.

    You assume they’re HONEST???? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA we’re screwed!!!

  • t_keefe

    All I have to say is WHY CAN’T A PAPER RECEIPT BE PRINTED AND GIVEN TO THE VOTER! It makes no sense that this can’t happen. Obviously this is still fallable but it would at least provide the voter something concrete to at least at that moment indicate what someone has voted for. Why also not if the vote result is wrong then a person can delete there vote and vote again until they get it right.

    Just thinking about this more makes think that it also might be worth having a second individual sealed voter tally sheet that is then mailed to the voter once voting has ended. This would provide a something that a voter could double check after an election. This could also be done by email.

  • elidumitru

    Every time it’s pointed out that corporatations have again gained undue influence in our government, they always come out with the same excuse: “Oh no, we’re not criminals, we’re just incompetent. But somehow their so called “incompentence” always ends up with them gaining more illegal power. The same is true here. This corrupt system that got us George Bush twice when he twice got fewer votes than his opponent is on purpose.

  • tomrarich

    WHY does no one ever discuss the electronic voting technology with an audit trail?

    I live in Concord MA, and for years we have used Paper ballets that are marked with a felt tip pen to record the votes (just like multiple choice exam papers), and the paper ballets are electronically tabulated by an optical reader.

    Fast tabulation. Simple. Cheap. Auditable.

  • The Repub Congress passed a real ID Act

    http://www.epic.org/privacy/id_cards/

    The Dems oppose the use of secure / verifiable ID in voting

    July 7, 2006, 4:57PM

    Judge Issues Restraining Order Ga. ID Law

    The law requires that every voter who casts a ballot in person provide a valid, government-issued photo ID. The state made such IDs available throughout the state, but former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, argued in court Thursday on behalf of two residents that the law would keep poor, elderly and minority voters from the polls.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/nation/4031914.html

    Not requiring ID’s also foster voting by illegal immigration.

  • The problem comes from viewing the machine as the ballot, and not the means for counting the ballot.

    Here in Arlington, we had the miserable punch cards. We had a very close override election in 1998, with a 13 vote margin out of approximately 15,000 votes cast. There were a couple of hundred blanks, and because there was nothing else on the ballot, we knew people didn’t get the holes punched through enough to be scanned by the computer. We had the recount and the hanging chads.

    We went to the optical scanner and paper ballots after the Florida debacle. It’s a great system. The scanner counts the votes on the paper ballots. They seem to be accurate, we get the results ten minutes after the polls close, and if there’s any dispute the paper ballots are there for a physical recount. The only problem is the printing of paper ballots costs more than just having a touch-screen terminal. I think it’s a small price to pay to have accountability and a verifiable result.

  • Alex Brown

    This is not a technical problem, but a political problem. The US does not have a national law or even specification of voting systems, or even, actually, a guaranteed right to vote. Within the range of election districts across the nation (about 13000) an enormous range of voting practices, many of which (in the past, hopefully) have been blatantly discriminatory, esp. against poor and black citizens. Most of these practices have focused on the registration systems, but election night practices have been questioned. The 15th amendment to the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 exist because of broad disagreement in this country on the right to vote, and resistance to granting the right to vote ever since the Civil War. Until this disagreement is resolved, and a national law on voting exists, and guarantees of the right to vote. we cannot assume that the operation of any election anywhere in this country is trustworthy.

    The electronic voting machine controversy exists because of specific incidents in which recent adoptions of electronic voting machines in some districts have coincided with strong evidence of incorrect election results. However, the most serious evidence of tampering with elections is in registration roll processing, as it was in Florida 2000, Ohio 2004, and many other incidents. There are also incidents of questionable results due to clumsy, ineffective, and possibly illegal election practices that involve electronic voting equipment, esp. in tallying — but

    when registration roll processing is honest, it will then be time to deal with voting equipment problems.

    As a couple of your speakers have indicated, it is not possible to build trustworthy machines; the best you can do is to adopt uniform technology for all users if the people involved are untrustworthy, and make sure that all the aspects of the machines’ design and construction is open to inspection. There is now enough experience with open source software that this is possible — but that’s no guarantee of confidence. The people involved and their trust levels are the essential problem.

    There is one possible future direction for trustworthy election technology: cryptographic election protocols can ensure with a very high degree of confidence that everyone participating in an election process is who they say they are, and that the records show everyone’s actions correctly, down to the final tally of every single vote. This is done using the same kind of cryptography – based on advanced number theory — that we trust in making purchases over the Net.

    However this has the same kind of problems that purchasing over the Net does: it is a complex system that requires special training which even technically literate citizens normally don’t have, and thus is not transparent. Compared to citizen-viewed hand counts of paper ballots, cryptographic elections are black magic — and are very susceptible to the bug/hack problems of reliability that Dill describes.

    The fact is, we need to have an election system that we all agree is acceptable to all of us — not 13,000 different election systems that allow local partisans to assume control.

    (More at http://evote-mass.org)

    Alex Brown

  • There is a problem with “uniformity” in a political System called “The United States”. The powers of the Fed govt, note the name is not the Federal Country of North Anmerica, does not inlcude much of the powers required to enforce uniorm voting laws.

    The basic faoundation of the US, the Constituion, is a barrier.

  • Hillarion

    Preliminary thoughts that I had hoped to post before the close of the show, but was too late:

    1. Computer source code should be open source, so that it can be subject to scrutiny and many intelligent minds.

    2. The fundamentals of computers, in their essentials, are *not* hard to understand. The basic concepts are, however, unfamiliar to many; that’s the difficulty. It’s too easy to say that computers are hopelessly difficult to understand. They definitely are not.

    What cannot be understood is all possible details of the behavior of a very complex program. It’s a matter of managing complexity intelligently, something not easy to do.

    3. India had a successful national election that used its own electronic voting machines, affordable and designed in their own country.

    4. I’m almost scared that the 2006 and 2008 elections will be stolen by misusing insecure electronic voting, and we’ll make the transition from a Fascist Lite national government to a real dictatorship.

    5. I trust Diebold less than what a street panhandler says he’ll do with the money he asks for.

    6. The problem, in an academic sense, of creating a trusted and secure voting system seems to have some basic similarities to inventing and testing a very good, secure cryptography algorithm.

    Fwiw, I was a computer tecrhnician in 1961 for a very critical N.A. continental defense system. The training we technicians had was superb.

  • If banks have figured this out so well, let’s hire the banks to count the vote! They do it for our money and we trust them. I’m sure the banks can figure out a firewall to keep my vote secret but still give a good total. I can’t believe we really have to rely on a piece of paper to get a good count!

    Thanks!

  • joan

    You wouldn’t give a bank your money if it never gave you a statement. There is no reason to trust a system that just gives you a sum total at the end of the year.

  • Listener in WA

    If there is any question of whether or not the Diebold voting machines are subject to manipulation, Diebold has recently admitted it in the New York Times:

    “David Bear, a spokesman for Diebold Election Systems, said the potential risk existed because the company’s technicians had intentionally built the machines in such a way that election officials would be able to update their systems in years ahead.

    “For there to be a problem here, you’re basically assuming a premise where you have some evil and nefarious election officials who would sneak in and introduce a piece of software,” he said. “I don’t believe these evil elections people exist.”

    So, by Diebold’s own admission, voting integrity with Diebold machines is completely dependent upon the honesty of a given election official—or Diebold technician. A simple search reveals numerous cases of dishonest election officials.

    Who’s willing to bet the farm—US democracy—on the integrity of any of thousands of people now and in the future?

    Here is the link:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/12/us/12vote.html?ex=1305086400&en=5b3554a76aad524a&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

  • I think there is a simple solution to the tehnical issue of tracking/verifying the votes:

    When you vote the machine should issue you a receipt with a number on it and how you voted. The number is unique but does not in any way tell you anything about the voter. The voter can then check on the web (or phone) anonymously that the number corresponds to the voting shown on the receipt (or they can give it to a 3rd party to check). This has the advantage that if you make a mistake in your vote (and realize later before the polls close) you could return and ask for it to be voided and have another go. I think enough people would check their own votes against the official log to make voting fraud by the machines very difficult to pull off.

  • David Weinstein

    I like Truman Buffet’s idea of each vote being tagged and each voter being able to make sure it was accurately counted the same way a client can track her UPS package. Of course this would depend on the vigilence of a significant number of American voters.

    As far as Winston Dodson’s comment about how Mexico is a model for clean elections, I find Mauel Obrador’s contention that three million or so citizens voted in that country than were votes counted eerily echoing the US goverment’s census stating that 3.4 million folks voted than were counted in the 2004 election. Yes, Mexico has cleaned up its act. But the same company, Choicepoint Systems, that drew up the list of registered voters to be scrubbed form the rolls in Florida in 2000, purpotedly because they were ex-felons, but whose only crime was in fact, that they were voting while African American, was hired by Bush republican insiders to do they same job in Mexico. Jeb Bush was informed that the Choicepoint list was bogus in 2000 and told secretary of State Catherine Harris to go ahead with the scheme anyway. Apparantly the same shadowy group has tried to do the same thing in Argentina, Columbia and Venezuela, and were even outed in the press.

    We used to invade these countries south of the border when we didn’t like the outcome of their elections. But now the Bush mafia has learned how not to leave fingerprints on the crime.

    The question, which ROS punted on in this story, I think, is whether this country has become a banana republic to the Bush crime family? I think the answer is a resounding, ‘yes’!

  • Mark Wolfe

    Plnelson:

    “…all I can say is that such thinking may make sense in a country with a king, but not in a country where a few of us still value our liberty.”

    Uh…you must be confused with the story of The King and I. The king of Thailand doesn’t “rule” as you seem to think….and there is liberty here. You are geopolitically challenged.

    Jon Garfunkel:

    “…everybody loves quoting that Diebold letter.”

    I was just furthering the debate by providing information.

    Plnelson:

    “I can’t think of any rational reason to make voting mandatory. We already have too many people voting who probably should not be voting – people who simply don’t have a clue about even the most basic features of the Constitution, the voting records of the candidates, or anything going on in current events.”

    There’s some profiling if I ever saw it. Perhaps we need to have a pop quiz for potential voters before allowing them into the booths:

    Right to poll question 4: What article in the Constitution refers to the suspension of the Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus? Under what conditions can it be suspended?

    Right to poll question 13: Which amendment to the Constitution refers to bail and fines?

    Yes, keeping the dumb people out of the balloting is a great idea.

    Mark Wolfe

    Koh Samui, Thailand

  • “Plnelson:

    “…all I can say is that such thinking may make sense in a country with a king, but not in a country where a few of us still value our liberty.�

    Uh…you must be confused with the story of The King and I. The king of Thailand doesn’t “ruleâ€? as you seem to think….and there is liberty here. You are geopolitically challenged.”

    Not true. In fact, in the last election it was only after King Bhumibol Adulyadej intervened that the courts decided to review the validity of the last election.

    Furthermore, my point was that the idea of depriving people of their liberty in the manner you suggested might be more palatable to people who are used to revering a king. There are still many people in Thailand who regard the king to have connections with the divine.

    ““I can’t think of any rational reason to make voting mandatory. We already have too many people voting who probably should not be voting – people who simply don’t have a clue about even the most basic features of the Constitution, the voting records of the candidates, or anything going on in current events.â€?

    There’s some profiling if I ever saw it.”

    Profiling or not, just address the facts: Are you denying that a HUGE proportion of the US population haven’t got a clue about the Constitution, history, or current affairs? The fact that we’re in a ridiculous war in Iraq is a direct result of this. I’m not proposing to have a poll test, but the facts are the facts, uncomfortable though they may be.

  • Mark Wolfe

    Without going into great detail, it would be a gross oversimplification to say that the king “made it happen.” No one likes to involve the king in such “petty” affairs as politics and he only weighs in in a general way on very rare occassions.

    Anyhow, …you sound like an old friend of mine who says, “They ought to demand that people pass an IQ test before they are given a passport.”

    There are uninformed and gullible people in the world; this is a given. Hail FOX Network! Just have to deal with it the best we can.

    Mark Wolfe

    Koh Samui, Thailand

  • lglitch

    I find it interesting that little attention has been paid to mail-in voting in this discussion. If more states follow Oregon’s lead and vote by mail, then there is no need for widescale deployment of electronic voting machines or any other technology. Of course, voting-by-mail has its own issues of authentication, but it would make a lot of this discussion moot.

    Lance Gleich

    Toronto, Ontario

  • I think an entire show should be dedicated to paper ballots. Most of the world still uses this method, and it is hands down the most transparent system there has ever been. Paper ballots are a beautiful thing, from the feeling a person gets checking off a box, to slipping that paper into a box and walking away feeling a sense of participation. From there you have the role of the observers.. where anyone could stand there and watch the process. Even if the military comes in and takes the ballots by gunpoint, at least right there you know that the process has been corrupted.

    All this talk of voting machines and computers as if they are unavoidable. What about the fact that they are unecessary.

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