Comments: Voting in the 21st century

I think overall you don't need to compare paper with electronic unless the outcome is in some measure of dispute. Even today I would imagine the percentage of disputed elections in the US is still relatively small. Although I do think some states (*cough* brother Jeb *cough*) are more susceptible to shenanigans than others...

Posted by Elayne Riggs at December 18, 2003 09:39 AM

I'll withhold comment on actual events to avoid bloodshed; I think Glenn Reynolds is 100% correct about the best way to vote: paper ballots. They're easy to make, they're easy to fill out (usually), and they're easy to verify after the fact. No hanging chads, no questions of electronic tampering, just look at the ballots and you can tell how people voted. I'm a big technophile, but I think when it comes to voting, keeping it simple is the wisest course.

Posted by Andrew at December 18, 2003 10:23 AM

Elayne - The problem that that the kind of computer manipulation I suggested means that an election might not be "disputed" in that the vote might not be registered as 'close enough' to trigger a state's automatic recount process.

As far as "shenanigans" - who defines a situation where "shenanigans" are likely and who pays to defend them against the inevitable lawsuits? I don't want to leave it in partisan hands to decide when there's a "dispute" because there almost always would be.

I don't want either (any) party doing that kind of thing. I want one, reliable vote, not an endless session of childish squabbling and name-calling that goes on until the public loses interest.

What I'd like, Andrew, are systems that don't allow the kind of lingering anger over perceived misdoing that we saw in 2000.

Like you, I love technology but I'm a fan of pen and paper. A reasonably well designed ballot is easy to read and putting a checkmark in a box next to a name is a simple task.

I don't thing the "price" we pay for sticking with paper ballots (waiting 12-24 hours to find out the "winner" of an election is too high.

Posted by Anne at December 18, 2003 10:55 AM

But Anne, I have addressed that issue, and in fact I allude to it in the same post you linked - that's why I ended it by saying ballots should be counted by hand.

Posted by Avedon at December 18, 2003 08:20 PM

Okay, I'm busted. :) My apologies that I didn't realize until today that I hadn't seen your entire post.

Posted by Anne at December 19, 2003 08:57 AM

No problem - the more people who are discussing this problem, the better. I keep getting the feeling I am the only person who has been talking about the importance of paper ballots and whether we can trust machines to count them, so I'm just glad you're doing it, too.

Posted by Avedon at December 19, 2003 12:04 PM