Patrick Neilsen Hayden has a post
I can't praise highly enough.
He's linking to another post, by Ars Technica
on the issue of recounting the ballots in New Hampshire. I'd point to the Ars Technica post directly, but I like the elaboration Patrick makes.
Counting ballots is the most critical part of a system which polls an electorate (the most important part is the active particpation of the electorate. Concommitant to that is ensuring the electorate is well-informed).
The issue in New Hampshire isn't, actually, allegations of fraud. Those, like the poor, will be with us always. No, the issue is accountability. If there is a system which is hidden (which is the case with all electronic systems. Punch cards are in this category), it needs to be spot checked.
We do this when money is the issue. Corporations aren't (or shouldn't be) allowed to just tell the shareholders what happend. Audits are done.
Taxpayers don't get to just declare, and have accepted on pure faith, what they earned, donated, are entitled to remove from the taxable sum. No, we have spot checks. We audit them.
Well, the same need is there with voting. Having a paper trail is only useful if someone follows it. Take a random sample of precincts, and count the paper copies, by hand. And I mean really random. Find some sort of lottery, using that select some people. Those people then select the precincts. Have them pull numbers from a hat, use bingo balls; call people and ask them to pick a number from x to y.
As Reagan said, "trust, but verify."
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