Rigged e-voting machine snacks on Homer Simpson
Cartoon doughnut eater smitten by touch screen
USA '08 If the US voters reporting flipped votes in early balloting for the US Presidential race think they have it bad, they haven't heard of Homer Simpson's plight.
In this Sunday's episode of The Simpsons, the lovable loser enters a voting booth for this year's presidential election and is surprised to find a touch-screen machine. "Ooh, one of those electronic voting dealies," he says with glee. But after casting his ballot for Democratic candidate Barack Obama, Simpson is shocked to hear the machine reply, "One vote for McCain. Thank you."
"No, I want to vote for Obama," Simpson replies. As the increasingly frustrated fat man repeatedly presses the Obama portion of the touch screen, the machine responds: "Two votes for McCain," then "three votes for McCain" and finally "Six votes for President McCain."
After Simpson roughs up the machine and declares it rigged, a bottom compartment opens and sucks him into it. Bloodied and unconscious, Simpson is eventually spit back out.
The parody, which is already available online, just goes to show how deep distrust of electronic voting has seeped into the American psyche. It comes amid a flurry of warnings about computerized voting systems that can cause votes to be lost or miscounted because of malfunctions. The reports include:
- A letter from the Brennan Center for Justice and Verified Voting to 16 secretaries of state advising them of a problem in Election Systems & Software's iVotronic machine that caused votes for one candidate to be recorded as a vote for the candidate's rival.
- A separate letter from the same two groups to state elections officials warning of problems in Global Election Management System (GEMS), made by Premier Election Solutions. In August, the company formerly known as Diebold copped to a decade-old bug that can cause votes to be dropped. According to Wired.com, the letter urges elections officials to follow rigorous procedures to guard against the snafu.
- A 158-page report (PDF) by scientists from Princeton University warning of serious deficiencies in the AVC Advantage 9.00H touch-screen voting machine made by Sequoia Voting systems.
Your voting machine won't eat you. But it may eat your vote. ®
More on paper and pencil
Here in New Zealand we used the paper and pencil system yesterday to throw out the party that has been in power for 9 years.
The compete results were out in only 5 hours from the polls closing.
It all seemed to go very smoothly, and although the votes will all be recounted and scrutinised over the next few weeks ,It will be surprising if there are any significant changes .
This style of voting has always been done here (well for the 54 years that I have voted) and will probably continue.
Paper and pencil
Now I know most of us are technical people here,
but this is one area where tech just does not belong.
A paper system, with the count supervised by scruitineers form both parties is virtually infallible. Why bother with an electronic system, that willNEVER have the full comfidence of the electorate?
Before the makers of the machines collectively take the makers of the Simpsons to court for dissing their scandalously poor products? It would fit; the quality of the product is usually proportional to the ease with which you reach for the lawyers.