By Brian D. Barry, CommonDreams.org, 03/04/04
I've always wondered what sound Democracy would make if it died.
Last night, I found out in Santa Clara, California. The sound it makes is a deafening silence, and it sent chills up and down my spine. This sound scared me more than anything I've ever heard in my life.
Last night, I experienced the illusion of casting my vote on a state of the art touch screen "DRE" (direct recording electronic) computer voting system. The poll workers were helpful and showed me how to vote. However, when I asked them a detailed question such as, who is the vendor that makes these voting machines, all I got was a blank stare. Do you have any information on these machines? No answer. I had to examine the machines myself to find out who made them. I didn't know that my most basic question was going to be a rhetorical one.
After I completed making all my selections, the screen displayed this message: "Touch Here To Cast Your Ballot". So I did.
Then the machine displayed this message:
"Recording Vote. Please Wait."
A couple of moments went by, then the machine displayed this final message:
"Vote Recorded, Thank You"
I waited for the output. Nothing happened.
Ok, I guess I was done voting.
It would have been a wonderful experience except for one thing.
There was something missing. Something very important.
There was no human-readable, physical evidence that my vote had been captured and stored the way that I had intended. Sequoia claims that my vote was stored inside that machine, but there was no way to verify this. Since there was no physical voting document produced, there was also no way to recount my vote if the election was ever disputed.
Why wasn't the machine creating a punched card showing my vote selections? Why wasn't the machine printing a sheet of paper that could be optically scanned showing how I voted that I could read myself to verify that it recorded my choices correctly? Where was that physical output that would be used to actually count my vote and that would also be used during a recount if one was necessary. Without the physical output, how could anyone ever do an audit?
Human monitoring of the step between capturing of the votes and counting of the votes has been eliminated and instead has been placed under corporate control.
This is a brilliant strategy by Sequoia Voting Systems. All elections are now perfect by design. If you eliminate the ability to detect or prove fraud in an election, then you can claim that all elections are free of fraud.