The Hazards of E-voting Essay

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The Hazards of E-voting

A democracy can only be effective when it runs efficiently, when the will of the people is transmitted through the corridors of power. It can only hit its zenith if the most important function of democracy, voting, is carried out flawlessly. Although flawlessness has never been achieved, men have certainly tried to keep the voting system as efficient as possible, with the least possible amounts of votes being lost or mis-counted. Human error is of course, uncontrollable. This error combined with the partiality of all humans, prompted the development of machines that would register, store and count the ballots which were cast. Electronic voting, or e-voting, soon found advocates and lots of
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Computer scientists from coast to coast have warned that the machines sometimes err in counting votes and could be easily compromised by hackers intent on disrupting elections. In either case, they say, a manual recount would be meaningless if it was based on corrupted electronic data.5 A paper trail would be used to recount the votes if it were suspected that the machine was not giving an accurate count of the votes. "Most machines cannot print a so-called voter-verified paper trail, so when a politician demands a recount, most DREs will simply spit out the same set of disputed numbers again and again."6 Not only does this make it impossible to have effective recounts that could help in the event of a serious computing error, it also puts vote tampering into the spotlight. If a paper trail is non-existent then it would be much harder to detect if the votes have been tampered with. This brings into question the veracity of the programmers, is everything that they mention about the programs capabilities true? What bugs exists and have they been corrected?
Matt Zimmermann, an EFF attorney who is dealing with e-voting said,
"What we want to know is, what are these machines actually doing? How are these things programmed? Are there errors in the programming?"7 When casting

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