Baltimore Sun Article by Mike Himowitz this year

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Mon Jul 24 2006 - 21:36:02 CDT

I am posting an excellent article that appeared last March. I looked for
this in the OVC-discuss archives and could not find it! It was an oversight
not to post it here, so I am correcting that now. Himowitz proposes an
significant idea for OVC. Maybe Maryland should adapt their Diebold TS
machines to work with the OVC ballot printer model.

I printed a PDF file of the article on the web and the text is copied below.

http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/ad/balt-sun-326.pdf

Plug-in network solution too slow
Mar 02, 2006
The Baltimore Sun
By Mike Himowitz

[second part only]

Get-out-the-vote department: Last week's column about the pitfalls of
all-electronic voting generated more response than anything I've written
in years. The astonishing thing: Most of my readers agreed with me.

At least none of them started a message with, "You liberal idiot!" or
"I'm canceling my subscription, you pinko dolt!" That's what I usually
get when I venture into matters of public policy.

Anyway, I made it clear that I don't like Maryland's current Diebold
AccuVote
TS system. It's the very worst example of "black box" voting - based on
secret, proprietary software that leaves no paper trail and is impossible
to verify.

But several readers wondered whether there's any system I do like. And
indeed, there is. It's not on the shelves at CompUSA in a shrink-wrapped
version, but you'll find a good description on the Web site the Open Voting
Consortium.

This alliance of computer scientists and civic activists began agitating
for responsible electronic voting long before the subject made headlines.

Although it isn't perfect, I think the group's proposal comes close to
satisfying all the competing demands on an electronic voting system.

It starts with two assumptions. The first is that any electronic system has
to be completely open to public inspection - including the hardware and
software. The second is that the best record of a vote is still a paper
ballot.

To that end, the OpenVoting system uses an electronic voting terminal, but
only to generate a paper ballot, which is in turn scanned optically to
record the actual vote.

Unlike existing scanned paper ballot systems, OpenVoting doesn't require
election officials to print millions of ballots in advance and store them
in secure warehouses.

The ballots merely have to be programmed into the terminals. That satisfies
election administrators who hate handling all that paper.

As a voter, you do get a paper ballot that's clearly marked - you can check
it for errors before you slip it into the scanner.

If there's an equipment breakdown or a challenge, the paper ballots are
always available to be compared with the electronic totals - and rescanned
or counted by hand if necessary.

To install a system like this, we wouldn't necessarily have to scrap
everything we've acquired. In fact, most electronic terminals can be
programmed to act as simple ballot printers.

And the system would satisfy advocates for the disabled who want electronic
terminals because they can be outfitted with audio systems that allow the
blind to vote without assistance.

Give it a try yourself. You can cast an entertaining test ballot on the
OpenVoting Web site at www.openvoting.org.

mike.himowitz@baltsun.com

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Received on Mon Jul 31 23:17:07 2006

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