May 9, 2011
Email voting? Why not, one might ask?! A lot of folks use the false analogy of online banking to argue that email voting should be allowed for the convenience and accessibility of voters. Not a moment of thought is given to the security risks involved. So I’ve done a brief Fact Sheet summarizing the major arguments against returning voted ballots via email. I’m OK with distribution of blank ballots via email but not the return of voted ballots by the same method.
Oregon, like many other states, considering authorizing email return of ballots — the bill is HB 3074 and this post is directed toward that proposed law, but could effectively be applied to a host of other states which are considering similar legislation (or perhaps need to review already adopted laws in light of these arguments). Read the rest of this entry »
March 21, 2011
I recently wrote to my state senator about NPV.
Thank you for responding to my previous communication. I hope you will reconsider your position and withdraw your support of what has been called the “Blue State Suicide Pact”, aka National Popular Vote proposal.
I am no fan of the Electoral College as it currently operates but I oppose the current NPV proposal. In fact, the name is a classic oxymoron. Read the rest of this entry »
July 9, 2010
Yes, even cowgirls (and cowboys) can get the blues when they’re astride a horse or behind the wheel of a jeep out in the don’t-fence-me-in terrain of the West. Nary a cell-tower in sight amidst all the purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain. Not even “another roadside attraction” (apologies to Tom Robbins for the double reference to his novels). Read the rest of this entry »
May 5, 2010
A new law in the UK has made a late surge in voter registration possible and at the same time made the task of prognosticators and pollsters trying to predict likely election results much more difficult. This new law set the deadline for voter registration the eleventh day of the campaign. Previously on one could add his or her name to the electoral roll once a general election had officially been called by the Prime Ministers.
This has led to an enormous increase in voter registration across the United Kingdom. Pre-election polling shows the three parties locked in a tight race with no party favored to gain a governing majority. A large pool of new voters can only increase the unpredictability as UK voters go to the polls to choose a new Prime Minister. After 13 years of Labor Party rule it seems likely that change is in the air. It is uncertain what form this change will take. Read the rest of this entry »
October 29, 2009
One of the many dubious claims about Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is that it will produce a consensus winner. Not always true, as has been found in studies of both Aspen, CO and Burlington, VT. The candidate with the most first and second place support does not always win. This is because it is possible to hurt your preferred candidate by turning out too many supporters in his behalf. How is this possible? Just take a look at this explanatory video to see how this could happen (and has indeed happened in real elections in various places across the U.S.)
Why is this more democratic? Why would voters prefer the kind of result described in this video to a straightforward up-or-down vote?
July 4, 2009
Aspects of the Iran election remind me of a TV commercial for men’s pants. There are several variations but the basic storyline concerns some guy who is shown going through a variety of spills and disasters only to return home to the question: “Where have those pants been?”
While the pants are unscathed the guy appears disheveled and somewhat worse for the wear, the pants are free of stains and wrinkles. The sales pitch is that one should prefer pants that stay crisp and clean no matter what.
But what does the Dockers commercial have to do with the Iran election, you might wonder. The answer is simple — photos of paper ballots being recounted have been shown on Iranian TV. But the pictures just raise new questions about the integrity of Iran’s electoral process. The question that must be asked: “Where have these ballots been?” Read the rest of this entry »
June 22, 2009
The sign says it all: “Where is my vote?”
Throughout the ongoing street marches in Iran the sign eloquently expresses the underlying sense of many Iranians that their votes were simply not counted. Their voices at the ballot box were not heard.
One marcher eloquently expressed the feelings of many as she was interviewed on TV: “There was so much energy for Mousavi — we knew he was winning.” Read the rest of this entry »
June 7, 2009
It took seven long months for the Franken-Coleman election contest to wind its way to oral arguments before the Minnesota Supreme Court. Now it appears that the day of final decision is finally near and the certificate of election will be issued.
The consensus of court-watchers is that Al Franken is likely to be seated as the junior U.S. Senator from Minnesota.
The basis for this consensus is the persistent quest for solid evidence from the Coleman legal team. Over and over again the various justices asked for evidence of how many votes there might be to overturn Franken’s 312-vote lead. The justices wanted a witness list, suggestions of what their testimony might be and hard numbers about the ballots in question, not statistical sampling or nebulous
theories. Read the rest of this entry »
April 27, 2009
According to a recent report in the Irish Times, the Irish Republic has decided to dump its 7,500 paperless electronic voting machines and retain paper ballots. There had been a proposal to add a Voter Verified Audit Trail (VVAT) to the paperless NEDAP machines but Irish Minister of the Environment John Gormley decided against that path, citing costs. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0423/breaking37.htm
“It is clear from consideration of the Report of the Commission on Electronic Voting that significant additional costs would arise to advance electronic voting in Ireland. This decision has been taken to avoid such costs, especially at a time of more challenging economic conditions.”
But Gormley stated that he felt that the decision was also justified by other considerations:
“The public appeared to be broadly satisfied with the present paper-based system and that this had to be recognised.
“The assurance of public confidence in the democratic system is of paramount importance and it is vital to bring clarity to the present situation.” Read the rest of this entry »
March 3, 2009
The idea of being to cast one’s ballot on the internet has a seductive appeal — the deceptive facade of web security leads many to make a giant leap and assume that internet voting will give military personnel and others stationed abroad a safe gateway to participation in U.S. elections. Many even compare online voting to online banking or the common use of ATMs as evidence that the risks of internet voting can be mitigated. A closer examination shows that this complacency about the true risks of internet voting is based on false comparisons and could lead to a rush to embrace internet voting without due consideration being given to the very real dangers of internet voting.
Let us consider in turn the four main areas of concern which much be addressed:
● the potential for breaches of the secret ballot,
● the open door to voter fraud,
● the insecure nature of the internet,
● the budgetary impact of developing a system of online voting.
Breaching the secret ballot
The secret ballot for each and every voter should be sacred. That is a bedrock American value, intrinsic to our election system. If internet voting is implemented we will be asking an important segment of voters to give up their right to ballot secrecy. Using current technology there is no way that a ballot cast on the internet can be completely dissociated from a particular voter and thus any citizen casting a vote over the internet would be implicitly waiving their right to a secret ballot. Why should overseas voters, especially those deployed by the DOD in Iraq or Afghanistan, have fewer rights than any other American citizen? Why should the military deployed overseas, of all groups of voters, be asked towaive their right to the secret ballot? The secret ballot is one of the American values that our military are defending and they should not be given fewer rights to secrecy than their fellow citizens stateside. Read the rest of this entry »