Monday, July 25, 2005

King County's Optical Scan Voting Machines

In King County we use precinct-based optical scan ballots. "The CalTech/MIT Voting Technology Project found them to be the most accurate at recording the voter's intent and not significantly more expensive per vote than touch-screen machines. " from --

I propose that we continue using the same machines, but we run precinct level hand-audits and post the results at the precinct. I believe it should be physically possible to reflash the firmware on the machines to use publicly owned open source software, that the county could hire written on contract, and then publish the code. Who knows... maybe there is some goofy restriction on reflashing the firmware, like maybe Diebold wrote into the contract that the county can't "alter" the firmware without breaking the contract. I really don't know.

Though the Sec of State would restrict it, unless it was used in another election somewhere, though as I recall the SOS has ignored that law before.

[Note 9-19... Turns out I'm right, and Diebold does claim in their contracts that you can't put "non-Diebold" software on their voting machines. So a county is not allowed to change their own voting systems to, for example, a publicly owned and open sourced software system.]

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