Hacking Diebold Voting Machines

John Allen Paulos in his Who’s Counting column at ABC News:

Jap_2Elections and electronic voting machines invite consideration of the following thought experiment. You go to your local voting station, walk into the booth, pull the curtain, and see a well-dressed man standing inside with a little note pad. He asks whom you’re voting for, appears to record what you say in his note pad, tells you he’ll add your vote to his running total, thanks you, and asks you to send the next voter into the booth.

Whatever objections you have to this voting scenario should be reserved for the more familiar one involving Diebold and other voting machines. It’s long been known that electronic machines run proprietary software and don’t keep paper records of the votes cast. Similarly, the man in the voting booth also runs proprietary “mental software” whose commitment to honesty we have no way of ascertaining and simply supplies us with the vote total at the end of the day. He’s probably honest and careful and, since he seems to be taking notes, his total is likely to be accurate, but would you trust such a voting system?

More here.