Re: Another question: do we want machine-marked ballots for everybody?

From: Ronald Crane <voting_at_lastland_dot_net>
Date: Mon May 25 2009 - 18:05:23 CDT

Jim March wrote:
> One way to radically drop hardware costs is to have fewer ballot
> marking stations per precinct, and supply most voters with a blank
> ballot that they do their own "fill in the bubble" with.
Yes. Also this approach reduces the election's vulnerability to power
failures, DoS attacks, poll-worker setup mistakes, etc. And it reduces
line lengths, thus reducing attendant vote loss. On the latter, my
polling place serves 5 precincts, using hand-filled paper ballots with
op-scans and 1 VVPAT device per precinct. Just after I voted in
November, I saw that there were at least 25 people filling out ballots.
I think most of the machines were in use. The only lines were at the
checkin tables, and they were short. If we had been confined to the
machines, instead of being able to hand-fill our ballots on any hard
surface, there would have been lines -- probably long ones.

> ...The reason I'm queasy about machine-marked paper ballots is, well,
> people suck at proof-reading with up to an 80% failure rate - and it
> gets higher the further down the ticket you get (judges, etc.).
>
Yes. Also ballot-marking devices can be programmed to cheat by mucking
with the presentation (e.g., reordering ballots, dropping candidates,
etc.), with the selection (making it easier or more difficult to select
certain candidates), and with the machine's availability (e.g.,
"failing" or delaying service when too many voters select the "wrong"
candidates). Since these attacks work by influencing the voter's actual
selections instead of by misrecording them, they can't be detected by
"voter verification" or by after-the-fact ballot audits. And since the
presentation and selection attacks (and possibly certain
delay-of-service attacks) operate in the privacy of the voting booth,
it's difficult for voters to document them, even if they're inclined to
do so.

-R

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Received on Sun May 31 23:17:05 2009

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