Friday, May 14, 2004

There was an article in the local paper today - I'll add a link, but I bet it's not permanent - about electronic voting. The author, who claims to have a PhD in computer science, is pretty hard against any kind of computer based voting. I don't understand why. The arguments are all correct, of course - poor programming or malicious programmers could cause votes not to be counted or even recorded differently from what the voter intended - but in conjunction with a printed ballot, I see very little possibility of serious problems. The nice thing about a computer-printed ballot is this: it doesn't need to be human-readable. Wouldn't it be cool if each ballot printed out to an inch-high bar code on a standard piece of paper? You could fit 10 votes or so on a page, and create software to scan the ballot back if required. This way, each voter could have his ballot scanned for accuracy even before leaving the polling place, and recounts would be an easy job. Why is this so difficult?