An important opinion article from Steven Rosenfeld was recently highlighted by Rick Hasen, the expert at Election Law Blog, with the explanatory title, “Is It Possible to Do Reliable Post-Election Audits on Ballots which Print a Scannable Bar Code Rather than Human-Readable Voter Choices?’. According to Hasen, “this is one of the hottest issues right now among election integrity advocates”. Here is an excerpt from the Rosenfeld article:
The critics believe there are too many hidden or hackable parts that can be targeted by malevolent actors to steal votes and rig results – in short, resurrecting old criticisms of DREs. But stepping back, examining these latest charges can illustrate how much has changed in voting technology, and that counting votes and verifying results could be more precise than ever – if best practices were more widely used.
To start, there are big differences between DREs and the newest BMDs. As Ben Adida, a cybersecurity expert and voting system engineer who created a non-profit to build an inexpensive and open-source voting system, recently tweeted, “equating Ballot-Marking Devices with paperless voting machines is an exaggeration.” Yes, these devices could be better, he added, noting that their bar codes and printed voter choices could be larger and more readable. But the newest BMD systems do produce a secondary record of the vote cast that can be verified and compared to its internal electronic tabulation, he said.
“Paper is there. Mismatched barcodes can be discovered with auditing. And improving paper verification is doable,” Adida tweeted. “It’s easy to be a security maximalist while ignoring other requirements. We need to do better than that, be more subtle, take other requirements into account.”
See the full article at Election Law Blog, posted by Rick Hasen. Even though the technology may be impressive, regular Democracy Chronicles readers might be sceptical of any new election technology. Using voting machines in any way is questionable in regard to security and can have a negative impact in voter confidence in election outcomes. Paper ballots are more secure by nature and all computers have vulnerabilities.