A View from MIT TR Editors

Electronic Voting: Report from the Trenches

Electronic voting watchdog Avi Rubin volunteered to serve as an election judge in Maryland’s Super Tuesday balloting – in a Baltimore County precinct that used the very Diebold machines he has criticized. Rubin has posted an account of his day-long…

  • March 4, 2004

Electronic voting watchdog Avi Rubin volunteered to serve as an election judge in Maryland’s Super Tuesday balloting – in a Baltimore County precinct that used the very Diebold machines he has criticized. Rubin has posted an account of his day-long adventure. He describes “eye candy” security measures that provided no real security, such as starting the day by printing a “zero tape” from each machine: each candidate’s name, with a zero next to it. The idea was to prove that the machines weren’t starting with pre-stored votes. But, says Rubin: “I found this to be the kind of charade that a confidence man would play when performing some sleight of hand. So, the machines printed each candidates name with a zero next to it. Somehow, that is supposed to mean that there are no votes counted on the machine? I don’t know. I think I could write a five line computer program that would print the zero tally.” Rubin’s bottom line after a day in the election trenches: “I continue to believe that the Diebold voting machines represent a huge threat to our democracy. I fundamentally believe that we have thrown our trust in the outcome of our elections in the hands of a handful of companies…who are in a position to control the final outcomes of our elections. I also believe that the outcomes can be changed without any knowledge by election judges or anyone else. Furthermore, meaningful recounts are impossible with these machines.” Rubin does note, however, that the voters themselvers loved the machines.

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