E-VOTING UPDATE….Some good news on the e-voting front:

Paperless electronic voting machines used throughout the Washington region and much of the country “cannot be made secure,” according to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

….In a report hailed by critics of electronic voting, NIST said that voting systems should allow election officials to recount ballots independently from a voting machine’s software. The recommendations endorse “optical-scan” systems in which voters mark paper ballots that are read by a computer and electronic systems that print a paper summary of each ballot, which voters review and elections officials save for recounts.

I’ve come around on this question. In the past, I favored the optical scan approach as the simplest and most foolproof, but there are considerable advantages to an electronic device with a secure paper trail: they work better for the disabled community, they’re faster and more flexible, and in the long run they ought to be cheaper than paper (although I don’t know if that’s true in practice). What’s more, even optical scan ballots can produce unclear results if people don’t mark the bubbles correctly (or mark the wrong bubble or mark two bubbles or….). E-voting machines get around all these problems, and a secure paper trail provides an extremely reliable recount mechanism.

But, frankly, either method is OK with me. It’s good to see NIST getting on board.

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