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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Allentown Man Smashes eVoting Machine with Paperweight

by Ken Newquist / November 7, 2006

I wasn't thrilled with the electronic voting machines that were rolled out across the Lehigh Valley for today's voting -- the lack of a paper trail continues to bother me greatly. But I wasn't as upset as a man from Allentown, Pa., allegedly was as Engadget reports:

The highlight of the day, though, has nothing to do with shoddy equipment and everything to do with a crazy voter who attacked a Diebold-brand machine in Allentown, Pennsylvania. [The forty-three-year-old] a registered independent, apparently believed that the e-voting machines had been deployed in a wild conspiracy by Republicans, and decided to make a statement by smashing the $5,000 device with a metal cat paperweight.

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Your dislike of this technology I mean; I admitedly don't know much about it but it seems to me like it ought to be possible to create a secure environment for electronic voting. It ought to be possible to vote from home electronically. Anyhoo, if you can vote electronically why can'y one attach a printer? In the case of a discrepency or a re-count the paper print is then used. No print record is kept, every vote prints, etc.

I don't know, maybe I'm being an idealistic dreamer dreaming of a day when we can say bye bye to the Electoral College and, you know, enjoy a little Democracy?

You asked "Anyhoo, if you can vote electronically why can'y one attach a printer?" That's a good question ... but they didn't do it. So if the machine crashes or has some sort of snafu and the data is lost ... so are you votes.

And mind you, as I voted yesterday there was a yellow "low battery" light flashing on the terminal when I was done. When I brought it to a volunteers attention, he said he knew, and he'd been trying to get someone to tell him what it meant all morning.

That doesn't instill me with a lot of confidence. Neither does the fact that you can open some of these machines using the key from a hotel minibar.

I'm often in favor of privatizing government services, but in this case I think the voting machines should have been developed by the federal government (or at least, the state governments based on an agreed upon standard) and released as open source code so that people could see exactly how the system worked. What we've got now is essentially thousands of black boxes that are *supposed* to work correctly, but in truth, we don't know much of anything about how they do what they do. I'm not into conspiracy theories, but IMHO in this case, a little paranoia is a good thing.