Count ‘Em All By Hand

ButchHancock.gif I admire Matt Blaze, and I only hope he was being sarcastic in the entire post in which, after pointing out that California just decertified three major voting machine manufacturors due to massive security problems, he wrote:
How to build secure systems out of insecure components is a tough problem in general, but of huge practical importance here, since we can’t exactly stop holding elections until the technology is ready.

The best defense: Ad hominem security engineering. Matt Blaze, Exhaustive Search, 6 August 2007

Well, yes, yes we can.

Because we don’t have to wait for working technology.

We could import it from India, which voting machines that manage to tabulate votes for the world’s largest democracy in a few hours. They’re much simpler and more robust than for example Diebold’s machines. Here’s a good case for overseas outsourcing!

Even simpler, we could do what we did for many years: use paper ballots.

Don’t let ‘em count the votes with some man-made machine
The only way to count ’em right is to count ’em all by hand.
Mark your ballots on a piece of paper and count ‘em all by hand.

—Butch Hancock, That Great Election Day, War and Peace

We have the technology.

What kind of risk management is it to continue using some other technology that is known to be massively broken, when what is at risk is the entire political system?

Beyond voting techniques, maybe we should also pay attention to content:

I ain’t a gonna vote for man nor beast who’s full of lies and fear,
on that day on that great election day.


1 thought on “Count ‘Em All By Hand

  1. Perry E. Metzger

    Yes, that could be done, but it could not be arranged (given the inefficient bureaucracy) before the February primary in California. I think that’s a lot of the issue.
    There is also the fact that labor in places like India is much cheaper than it is here.
    BTW, you heard about the result Ron Rivest presented in the voting conference (also held just before Usenix Security…)?

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