Just When You Thought e-Voting Couldn't Get Any Dumber

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Voting, like sex, is a pretty private act (with a few freakish exceptions). It is really only your business whose chad you choose to punch, so to speak. In the electronic realm, privacy should be even more assured (if anything, the sex/voting metaphor gets stronger), you do your thing with the little black box and nobody's the wiser. Or maybe not.

In Ohio, the state that did a pretty credible impression of Florida in 2006, the voting machines used in the state produce a list of time-stamped results-- a paper trail. These paper trails were supposed to make us feel all warm and fuzzy but in fact they can allow anybody to figure out how you voted. Any Ohioan (I didn't think it was right either) can walk into their county election office and get two pieces of paper. One is the time-stamped list of the votes and the other is a list of voters and the order in which they voted. You can merge these two documents and you know how everyone voted. This of course has all kinds of ramifications-- vote selling and voter intimidation being the two biggies (although an increase in obnoxious phone bank calls is right up there). Although the problem appears to be pretty unique to Ohio (most states, even those where time-stamped logs are recorded, don't let you see the voter logs) it's still extremely serious. And the struggle to find an electronic voting system that isn't fatally flawed drags on.





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