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Seting the Record Straight: My Response to Avi Rubin's "Pull the Plug"

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Roy Lipscomb       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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(From Black Box Voting): Kudos to Roy Lipscomb for setting the record straight on

* * * * *

From Roy Lipscomb:

Avi Rubin published an essay in FORBES Magazine on September 4 in
which he cautioned against the use of touch-screen voting machines.
(His essay, "Pull the Plug," can be purchased online for $2 from )

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I felt disquieted by his conclusion, and after a week or so I sent a
letter to the editor. It was published it in the October 2 issue.

Below is the published version, followed by my original version. The
original version includes reference to an additional study, and also
contains citations for all references.


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Here's the published version:


In "Pull the Plug" (On My Mind, Sept. 4, p. 40), Aviel Rubin does an
excellent job of diagnosing the ills of voting machines. But his
remedy falls short. He proposes that we cast votes on paper ballots
and count the votes by means of optical scanners, concluding, "Even
the designer of the system cannot cheat if voters check the printed
ballots and if the optical scanners are audited."

The two conditions impose no real-world constraints. Paper ballots
printed by voting machines are unreliable. Studies have shown that
many or most voters do not bother to confirm the contents of such
ballots. When participants in one study were asked if their printed

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ballots contained errors, 60% admitted that they did not know.

Rubin recommends that we use voting machines to print the ballots, but
not to tabulate them because these machines, even if they are audited,
are too untrustworthy for vote-counting. Instead, he advised we
tabulate results by means of an optical scanner--itself a kind of
voting machine.

The irony of this eludes him.

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Roy Lipscomb, Secretary, Director for Technology, Illinois Ballot Integrity Project

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