We might wish we had some hanging chads to look at

It’s not the voting, it’s the counting

Nonplussed, a weblog by Left Coaster Ed Thibodeau, notes some potential problems with electronic voting machines, especially those that don’t leave a hardcopy paper trail.

Regardless of November’s election results, I expect to hear all sorts of conspiracy theories and see several lawsuits aimed at the new-fangled machines.

Thibodeau also points out a story on PBS.org about the machines.

Voting is nothing more than gathering and validating data on a huge scale, which these days is almost entirely the province of IT. And like many other really big IT projects, this touch screen voting thing came about as a knee-jerk reaction to some earlier problem, in this case the 2000 Florida election with its hanging chads and controversial outcome. Punch card voting was too unreliable, it was decided, so we needed something more complex and expensive because the response to any IT problem is to spend more money making things more complex.

So the U.S. government threw $3.5 billion on the table to pay for modernizing voting throughout the land, which is to say making it more expensive and more complicated. That’s a lot of money and it attracted a lot of interest. One company in particular, Diebold Systems, went so far as to buy a smaller company that made voting machines just to get into the market. Diebold thought that being in the automated teller business was a good starting point for changing the way America votes.

Doesn’t exactly make you feel warm inside, does it?

Of course, nothing says that Diebold and/or the electronic voting system is bound to fail. But we couldn’t count the votes accurately when they were on punch cards. What if someone pulls up a precinct result that’s obviously wrong or corrupted? What’s plan ‘B’? The ENTIRE count will have to be thrown out and ignored if there’s no plan ‘B’.