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Oh, that’s just PEACHY

October 22, 2006

No, this does NOT set my mind at ease…

Diebold Election Systems Inc. expressed alarm and state election officials contacted the FBI yesterday after a former legislator received an anonymous package containing what appears to be the computer code that ran Maryland’s polls in 2004.

Cheryl C. Kagan, a longtime critic of Maryland’s elections chief, says the fact that the computer disks were sent to her – along with an unsigned note criticizing the management of the state elections board – demonstrates that Maryland’s voting system faces grave security threats.
- Baltimore Sun: Former delegate gets purported Diebold code

I have said this before: votes should be recorded on paper by the voter

In our county, you fill the squares in with a marker, then feed the ballot through the scanner where it drops into a box.  If there is any question about the total, the ballots can be recounted – by hand, if necessary.  There are no ‘hanging chads’ or unverifiable digital totals, and the record is a stack of physical ballots, each one handled by a voter.

Categories: Politics
  1. James Old Guy
    October 23, 2006 at 06:41 | #1

    Have to agree on that one. I also support photo I.D. at the polls. If your too lazy or stupid to get an I.D., I don’t want you voting. In this day and age there is no excuse for not being able to prove who you are.

  2. October 23, 2006 at 16:55 | #2

    Yep.  I’m also in favor of some kind of literacy test, for which getting past the minor obstacles of getting a state photo ID card might be a minimum standard.

  3. October 23, 2006 at 18:32 | #3

    Oh c’mon, get into the modern age, DOF!  We can avoid those silly hanging chads, the spectacle of old geezers, er, Supreme Court Justices, choosing the next emperor and, in the of McLean County, the possibility of whole boxes of silly paper ballots go missing.

    OK, serious now … literacy test?  Hmmm, I think that’s been tried.

    Photo ID?  Yeah, those can’t be faked and get past volunteer polling attendants.

  4. October 23, 2006 at 20:04 | #4

    Oh c’mon, get into the modern age, DOF!

    No thanks.  At least with paper ballots, when they’re missing, they’re missed.  With digital votes, the machine spits out a total.  Don’t trust the total?  Too bad. 

    Yes, it’s true literacy tests have been tried, but the fact that they were done with bad motives doesn’t make them a bad idea.  I’m not even slightly interested in the political opinions of the illiterate. 

    And the necessity of faking lots of IDs raises the bar on large-scale fraud.  Voting is important – ID please.  NO ID?  Sorry.  Official state ID costs ten bucks – gather some documentation and go get one.

  5. Ed
    October 23, 2006 at 21:17 | #5

    Markers and scan sheets are what we use here in Huntsville.  The relative simplicity of the process combined with the paper backup are fantastic.  I’ve never understood why this can’t be the way voting is done nationwide.

  6. October 24, 2006 at 06:16 | #6

    You realize my tongue was in my cheek, no? ;-)   I’m open on the ID thing, but the literacy test is fraught with lots of difficulties and massive abuse, so I don’t think it’s a good idea at all.  JMO.

  7. October 24, 2006 at 07:08 | #7

    Yes I do realize that, hence the separator of “serious, now.” 

    And while an on-the-spot literacy test does have its problems, if someone can’t even make their way through the process of getting a proper ID, their vote is at best null input.  Let getting the ID be a de-facto literacy test.

    A broader test would be high school graduation.  That’s still a pretty low hurdle but the current dropout rate is staggering.  You really want someone who can’t finish high school picking our president?  Really? 

    Yes, I realize I’m dreaming.  But I can dream, can’t I?

  8. October 25, 2006 at 21:40 | #8

    The problems with ANY literacy test are:

    1.  Who will set the literacy standard?  The same people who sponsored the No Child Left Behind law?  Those who wrote it and passed it?  The person who signed the bill into law?
    2.  What will be the standard, and will it be universal, i.e. federal?  CAn you hear the state election boards weighing in on that?
    3.  Will it be retroactive?  Will currently registered voters be required to go through the literacy qualification process?

    You can be absolutely certain that there will be a lobby that will insist that the current standard is too low.  You have already proven that!  You went from the admittedly low standard of getting an ID to high school diploma.  Imagine what a group with real political clout and an agenda would propose.  Just one victory resulting from their “standards” gives them a victory that provides the platform and power for the standard to be changed again … to their advantage.

    Democracy is not clean cut, it is messy, and it is not perfect.  But no, this idea is neither democratic nor practical.

  9. October 25, 2006 at 21:43 | #9

    James:  “If your too lazy or stupid to get an I.D., I don’t want you voting.”

    After mulling this over for a few days, I now see the error of my ways in even partially agreeing with the sentiment.  It’s only a few steps from that to say “If you are too lazy or stupid to not come to the same political conclusions as me, I don’t want you voting.”  See my post above regarding literacy tests.

  10. October 25, 2006 at 22:15 | #10

    I believe I drew a distinction between a minimum that I must insist upon – getting a proper ID – and what I would “like” which I acknowledged as impractical.

    Voting without ID enables fraud.  You should have to present an official ID to vote.  The fact that a tiny bit of literacy is helpful to getting an ID is a side-benefit.

    And I completely agree with the sentiment of James’ statement – I don’t want the lazy or the stupid voting either.  That is different from a policy proposal.

    Example: I would like Rush Limbaugh to just shut the hell up, but I would not support a law to force him do so.

  11. October 27, 2006 at 19:28 | #11

    I was speaking only of a (separate) literacy test.  ID is a separate issue, and I haven’t through that one.  IIRC, I have to present an ID to vote in NYS.

    I (mostly) agree with the sentiment of “no idiots voting, please”, but call me paranoid, the spectre of a literacy test dovetails too well with that sentiment.

  12. October 27, 2006 at 20:21 | #12

    Oh, let it go.  If I were the evil dictator, people who don’t read weekly news magazines from at least two different continents would have to recite the entire constitution from memory before they could vote.  But it ain’t gonna happen.  And literacy isn’t everything; Bill O’Reilley is a best-selling author.

  13. October 28, 2006 at 20:34 | #13


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