Excellent piece--because I agree with it, of course.
One picky correction: At the end of paragraph 4 you mention "McPherson," but
there's no identification of who he is until much later in the article (Ed: since corrected).
I applaud your willingness to admit that you don't have the answer and to
examine the positions of those who think they do. I never like to accept a
position until I've heard the voices of those who object to it. I even feel
that way about your position on voting fraud. I'm still waiting to hear from
those who oppose you.
Joan, I think the answer is much simpler than anyone realizes. It comes down to
listening to the various sides to understand their interests, then separating
out legitimate interests from illegitimate interests.
That doesn't require an expert. All that doing the good work you do requires is a patient person of
good will. You do fine.
1. Advocates of the elderly, the disabled, and people for whom English is a
second language (or who simply like recognition of their ethnicity) want
electronic balloting because of its adaptability and ease of use for these
functions. Legitimate interest.
2. Election officials want electronic balloting because it reduces the labor. I
doubt many people understand just how much of a strain election night is on
officials. Legitimate interest. News organizations also like rapid counts to
meet news deadlines; this happens to be consistent with the goal of transparency
(below), since one traditional sign of crooked elections is that the results
come in inexplicably late: quasi-legitimate interest.
3. Most people want to ensure that ballots are secret, so that they can't be
controlled by employers, abusive husbands, cult-like organizations, and others.
Mail-in ballots and ballot receipts, even if encrypted, can compromise security.
4. Anyone who wants to ensure that elections are recognized as legitimate-- and
this should be everyone-- wants transparency. There should be no doubt that
votes were accurately recorded and counted. At this point, no electronic system
can be made secure (However regulated industries like pharmaceutics have shown
that genuinely secure electronic systems might one day be possible). Legitimate
By contrast, many claims can be discarded as illegitimate, e.g., the claim that
paper ballots are too expensive.
Republicans raise some good points with regard to how obsolete, poorly
maintained voter rolls compromise elections. Democrats raise good issues on
making registration inclusive.
I think the answer for voting machines is simple and commercially available. Use
the electronics to generate a sample ballot on-screen. Let the voter indicate
his choices. Print the result. Allow the voter to approve or disapprove the
paper ballot, which is then discarded or automatically counted.
That's not a perfect cure. The counters can be misprogrammed. But it satisfies
so many of the legitimate interests that if the political system weren't so
totally corrupt, it would have been adopted years ago.