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Catching Up with Illinois Ballot Integrity Project's Roy Lipscomb

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My guest today is Roy Lipscomb, Director of Technology for IBIP, the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project. Welcome to OpEdNews, Roy. Midterms are fast approaching. I understand you have some tips for voters on how, where and when to cast their votes. Can you share that with our readers?

Joan, thanks for your attention to this important topic.

The collection and processing of ballots is one those crucial governmental functions that, more and more, are being withdrawn from public view. The result is that these functions are escaping more and more of the essential checks and balances that the public was expected to provide.

When doctors prescribe a treatment to a patient, they are obligated to discuss the risks of the treatment. Unfortunately, election officials aren't obligated to tell voters the risks of mail-in balloting, or touch-screen voting machines, or of early voting.

Unlike ballots cast in the polling place, mail-in ballots are subject to getting lost or damaged in the mail. They're also out of public view for an inordinate amount of time, which leaves them open to all sorts of surreptitious tampering. (This applies as well to early voting.)

Touch-screen voting machines--let's call them TVMs--are no better. I've been a computer techie for close to forty years now, and I'm aghast at how much unwarranted faith people place in computerized voting.

TVMs have the same inherent risk of being hacked as any other computer that's accessible to the public. We can't afford that kind of risk, given that literally billions of dollars are at stake in elections, and given that hacking is itself now a professional, billion dollar industry.

In addition, TVMs have a decades-long history of glitches, some very serious, and some discovered only by accident. Who can forget the "negative 16,000" votes that Al Gore received in the 2000 election?

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All this has led to TVMs being banned in Florida, California, and other states. They've also been banned in Europe in countries like Ireland, the Netherlands, and Germany.

So IBIP's advice to voters is this: "Vote in person, on election day, with a paper ballot."

Is your advice good only for Illinois residents or is this a rule of
thumb for all citizens planning on voting in the upcoming midterms?

Joan, the cautions have intergalactic validity. ;)

Okay. Got it. With the myriad cautions and caveats that have come out of studies and experience since the implementation of electronic voting, why does it seem that we're headed deeper and deeper into e-voting rather than running the other way?

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I can only speculate. But I have my suspicions.

I'm convinced that part of the problem is the starry-eyed adulation that public officials have for anything that smacks of high-tech, or promises to make their jobs easier. This makes computerized voting machines a double whammy.

Add the fact that digital voting machines were being made available five years ago "for free"--meaning the federal government was reimbursing the states' purchase of the machines.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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