Transparency is the North Star of Voting
During the Bucks County Pennsylvania Commissioners meeting of February 20, 2008, the issue of voting integrity was hotly debated with little meaningful outcome. The County Commissioners agreed to hold a voting integrity specific meeting, which will be open to the public, and will allow members of the Coalition for Voting Integrity to present their best case as to why Commissioners Jim Cawley and Charley Martin should reconsider there present position on retaining existing computer based voting machines.This follow on meeting is all well and good, however, I fear that it will fail for the very reasons that it needs to be held. [They (the Commissioners) don’t get it,] and they don’t get it because they lack an understanding of the fundamental principles associated with voting in this American Democracy.
It’s as if both Commissioners Jim Cawley and Charley Martin skipped that class in Democracy 101 which would have educated them about checks and balance and how as it relates to the voting process, it’s the transparency of the process that accommodates the checks and balance process. [Transparency of the voting process is at the heart of voting integrity.] Without beginning to end transparency of the process, the vote can never be considered to be secure or verifiable as to its original intent. [Transparency must be the north star against which all decisions are measured when considering mechanisms by which to vote.] If any voting method fails the transparency standard, it cannot be considered and must be rejected.
This is where Martin and Cawley reveal their lack of understanding of the basics. [Computers, because of their esoteric nature, cannot now, nor can they ever pass the transparency standard.] Transparency is ideally a process by which the average literate English speaking American voter can serve as a fair witness auditor. If the voting mechanism is that of paper ballots, then transparency is preserved for the average voter because they can read the ballot, and they can count. Thus, any voter can audit the vote.
However, when we voters cast our votes into those esoteric touch screen voting machines, the status and whereabouts of our vote is unknown and unknowable except to those auditors that have sufficient technical expertise as to be able to perform a forensics computer check. Typically, those experts would be in the employ of those people who manufactured the machines. We can all see how that would be a major conflict of interests.
In the defense of Commissioners Cawley and Martin, they, like so many other officials all across America have been painted into a corner by the ill thought out Help America Vote Act. Those folks who described HAVA, and those that voted for its acceptance, also need some remedial training in American democratic fundamentals. It is really all so simple when you keep the principle of transparency in our sights. [When you understand the requirement of transparency, voting into a computer is unthinkable.]
But if you are a Bucks County Commissioner content with living with unknowns, if you think average Americans should blindly trust an unknowable system, then computer voting may be Bucks County’s future. [C’mon Commissioners, this is a slam dunk no brainer.] Pull yourselves up by your bootstraps and secure our vote by selling the computer style voting machines as boat anchors, and substituting the most understandable and transparent of all voting technologies, the paper and the pen.