Yesterday, Diebold (the major manufacturer of US electronic voting machines, though it represents a tiny fraction of their business) attempted to block HBO from airing a documentary entitled "Hacking Democracy". The video documents the activities of Bev Harris -- a whistleblower and former Diebold employee who runs BlackBoxVoting.org -- as she attempted to call public attention to the inadequacies of the electronic voting system and have them addressed.
One-third of us will be voting using electronic voting systems this year. 33% of the vote is a big freaking number when the two most recent presidential elections were decided by extremely narrow margin. 80% of votes in the USA are tabulated via computer, even if the voting machines themselves are not electronic. In the 2000 election, an electronic voting machine in Florida tabulated a total of minus 16,022 votes for Al Gore. That's right, negative votes. Whether a product of malicious tampering, mechanical failure, or engineering error, I simply don't trust that closed-source software is free of defects.
I hope to find a way to view this film prior to the election, as I've had a long-standing concern over electronic voting. In my opinion, we absolutely must have a method of hand-recounts in case of a dispute, because electronic results can be -- and are -- tampered with. An electronic recount won't do, and neither will a "receipt" which is illegible to the average voter.
The only solution I see is that the software which drives our voting machines must be open-source. That is, the source code is made publicly available to be inspected by any interested person, and every single vote must carry with it a checksum indicating that the vote was tabulated by a machine carrying a "blessed" (that is, publicly-approved and released) binary of the software.
In addition to the implications of insecure software tabulating our votes, there's the political issue. Electronic voting, in many districts, was railroaded through on an irregular election day. Including mine. That is, incumbent politicians frequently managed to sneak the issue of electronic voting onto recent ballots on a day when they knew that most of those voting would be aligned with their interests. In our case, it was brought to the table on the day of our primaries two years ago, and now for this election, the incumbent politicians are sitting fat and happy with their Diebold machines out on the floor.
I'm sorry, but with several of these machines in Florida refusing to allow votes for Democrats, I'm concerned! I perceive an enormous anti-incumbent atmosphere in the US right now. Doesn't matter whether that incumbent is Democrat or Republican. The incumbents are well-positioned to interfere with election results by greasing the right corporate palms at Diebold.