view from mars

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

Monday, February 20, 2006

miller on voter-verified paper receipts

Reader steve smith posted in the comments:
I think Harris Miller and ITAA changed their position on this quite awhile ago:

Then provided a link that I couldn't get to work. After about 15 minutes of Googling, I came across this Q&A with Miller from last month:
As the president of the ITAA, which includes electronic voting systems vendors among its members, you said in the past that you opposed verifiable paper trails for such systems. For many people in the country, this is a very important issue because of accuracy issues in several recent elections. What is your stand on this issue as a candidate?
I did oppose verifiable paper trails until about a year and a half ago. I was hearing from local registrars, including in Virginia, that they didn’t want the additional burden for administration and maintenance that the paper trails would produce with printers and other equipment. But voters want it. It has more voter confidence. My argument at the time was that if [a hacker] is smart enough to take over a [voting] machine and register someone’s vote internally for the wrong candidate, that they’re also smart enough to make it look like the paper trail properly says who you voted for. People could get a false sense of security.

Thanks to steve smith for pointing this out. Like I said, I don't know much about Miller, yet, and in the weeks until the primary in June I hope to explore what he's about here on this blog.

For what it's worth, I still have a problem with his coziness with the "election industry" even with this quotation in mind. The problems with e-voting are legion, ranging not only from its susceptibility to hacking on a number of fronts but also from the clearly partisan efforts executed by various state officials in order to get specific corporations' voting machines installed (i.e. Diebold.) The "election industry" has transformed what should be a pure governmental process into a neo-liberal free-for-all. As it happens, the players in this market have their best interests in mind (occupying a dominating space in the market) when they hire lobbyists like ITAA and Miller, which are later codified largely by republican lawmakers. And here one must remember that the leaders of corporations in the "election industry" are themselves partisan, as in the case of former Diebold CEO Wally O'Dell.

Our votes should be converted into representation through as few obstacles as possible. Attempts by ITAA, and Miller, to insert clearly partisan filters into this process dilute the purity of representation our votes symbolize.

The problem is not necessarily just that of the ineffectiveness or "false sense of security" of voter-verified paper receipts after registering a vote on an e-voting machine. The problem is that Miller seems, by his comment above, to accept that some margin of error, or some other general hackery, is possible at all.

As cozy as he was with members of the "election industry" why wasn't Miller vociferous in calling for tighter controls in e-voting machinery and software? Why were corporations like Diebold, whose machines have now been proven to be so unreliable and susceptible to all kinds of mischief, allowed to occupy such a large place in the e-voting market? Why did he lobby state and federal governments on behalf of corporations whose products would later prove to be so, you know, shitty?


  • At 9:00 AM, Blogger Alice said…

    Oops, I commented on the older thread before I saw this one.

    In any case, you should check out Miller's site.

  • At 4:58 PM, Blogger mar said…

    thanks for coming alice.

    I understand that Miller changed his position, I just have a problem that he seemed to do it so begrudgingly (paraphrasing: just because people think it will help, but really they're wrong.)

    With all the news coming out about the validity of Diebold/etc machines, I'm surprised he continues to defend them.


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