Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?

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Overview

For many of us, the presidential election of 2000 was a wake-up call. The controversy following the vote count led to demands for election reform. But the new voting systems that were subsequently introduced to the market have serious security flaws, and many are confusing and difficult to use. Moreover, legislation has not kept up with the constantly evolving voting technology, leaving little to no legal recourse when votes are improperly counted. How did we come to acquire the complex technology we now depend ...

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Overview

For many of us, the presidential election of 2000 was a wake-up call. The controversy following the vote count led to demands for election reform. But the new voting systems that were subsequently introduced to the market have serious security flaws, and many are confusing and difficult to use. Moreover, legislation has not kept up with the constantly evolving voting technology, leaving little to no legal recourse when votes are improperly counted. How did we come to acquire the complex technology we now depend on to count votes?  Douglas Jones and Barbara Simons probe this question, along with public policy and regulatory issues raised by our voting technologies.  Broken Ballots is a thorough and incisive analysis of the current voting climate that approaches American elections from technological, legal, and historical perspectives.  The authors examine the ways in which Americans vote today, gauging how inaccurate, unreliable, and insecure our voting systems are. An important book for election administrators, political scientists, and students of government and technology policy, Broken Ballots is also a vital tool for any voting American.

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Editorial Reviews

U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 12th congressional district

Americans want to believe their votes are counted reliably, fairly, and fully, yet they have a nagging suspicion that all is not well in our country's voting systems. Broken Ballots chronicles in the greatest detail how these suspicions have been examined and how improvements have been pursued, rejected, implemented, or defeated. Jones and Simons detail the intricacies involved in maintaining the integrity of voting procedures and technologies and in protecting the outcome of elections from error or manipulation.

Presenting evidence that ballot box access and security are under serious threat by the push for unauditable voting machines and untested and unsecured internet-based voting, Broken Ballots forces us to examine closely our electoral process. As a nation, we must take a serious look at the suggestions provided by Jones and Simons and enact the legislation needed to make strides toward secure, accessible, and verifiable elections. What can be more important?

— Rush Holt

Principal Scientist at SRI International

In my opinion, it is the most thorough, well researched, and definitive publication on this subject that has ever been written — despite the reality that it was under perpetual gestation for many years, because the ground under our elections has continually shifted, although often not for the better. The commercial vendors undoubtedly will hate it, because it truly documents a reality in which the seams are unseemly, and the lack of accountability is almost unbelievable. But it is one of the most important books around for those who believe in democracy.

— Peter G. Neumann

Frederick A. O. "Fritz" Schwarz
Broken Ballots is an extremely useful book on an extraordinarily important subject: will your vote count? As this book convincingly shows, the combination of defective technology and poor regulation have too often meant that votes are miscounted, or not counted at all.

 
The book provides a comprehensive history of the use of voting technology in the United States, but its heart is the “voting technology battles” that followed the 2000 election. That election, as the authors note, demonstrated more dramatically than any other the impact that flawed technology can have on election outcomes.
 
Simons and Jones were not mere spectators to these battles, they have been important players. They make no apologies for their opposition to paperless computerized voting machines, or to internet voting. While not everyone will agree with their characterization of all the battles of the last decade, they provide a cogent and clear critique of current election administration and regulation, and offer several common sense solutions for increasing the accuracy and fairness of our elections.
 
This book is a must read, not only for election officials and other policy makers, but also for public interest groups who seek to protect the vote and, indeed, for every citizen who wants his or her vote to be counted.—Frederick A. O. “Fritz” Schwarz, Jr., Chief Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice

cofounder of Jive Software - Bill Lynch
“Thanks so much for writing [Broken Ballots]—it’s a great comprehensive review of voting systems.  I’ve been interested in the technology behind this basically since college and especially after I learned more about cryptography after graduating.”
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Douglas W. Jones is on the computer science faculty at the University of Iowa. Barbara Simons, a former president of the Association for Computing Machinery, is retired from IBM Research. For more information, please visit www.brokenballots.com.

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Table of Contents

About the Authors

1. Introduction
A Book Overview
2. Déjà Vu All Over Again
2.1 The First Round
2.2 The First Voting Mechanisms
2.3 The Australian Ballot
2.4 How Secret?
2.5 Voting Machines
2.6 Industrialization
2.7 Consolidation and Monopoly
2.8 Adopting Voting Machines
3. How Did We Get Here?
3.1 Scandal in Chicago
3.2 Fraud and Reform in the Interwar Era
3.3 Problems with Mechanical Voting Machines
3.4 The Rise of the Punched Card
3.5 The Trouble With Chad
3.6 The Success of the Votomatic
3.7 What's Wrong with the Votomatic
4. Filling the Bubble
4.1 Central-Count Machines
4.2 Precinct-Count Machines
4.3 Mark-Sense Machines in Action
4.4 What is a Vote?
4.5 The Human Element
4.6 Image-Based Mark Sensing
4.7 New Directions
5. Trusting in Technology
5.1 Voting by Electricity
5.2 The First Generation at the Polls
5.3 Second Generation DRE Voting Systems
5.4 What's Wrong with DRE Voting?
5.5 Voter Verifiability
5.6 Experimental Studies
5.7 What Happened in Sarasota?
6. Establishing a Standard
6.1 The Press for Standards
6.2 The 1990 Voting System Standards
6.3 2002 and Interim Standards
6.4 The Help America Vote Act of 2002
6.5 The IEEE steps in
6.6 Continuing Developments
6.7 International Standards
7. The Problems with Diebold
7.1 Overview
7.2 Early Events
7.3 Early State Diebold Studies
7.4 Demonstrations of Election Rigging
7.5 Some Later State Diebold Studies
7.6 Linda Lamone and Maryland
7.7 What Can We Learn from Diebold?
8. The California Soap Opera
8.1 Some Early Events
8.2 Shelley Battles Vendors & Election Officials
8.3 California's Revolving Door
8.4 More Diebold Revelations
8.5 The Top to Bottom Review
8.6 Conclusion
9. Voters with Disabilities
9.1 A Story
9.2 A Second Story
9.3 Many Voices
9.4 Some Early Legislation and Litigation
9.5 The AAPD
9.6 Vendor Financial Contributions
9.7 Lawsuits
9.8 How Accessible are DREs?
9.9 What Lies Ahead?
10. The Right to Vote
10.1 Some Background
10.2 Issues Relating to Voter Registration
10.3 Studies and Proposed Reforms
10.4 Voter Registration Databases (VRDs)
10.5 The Future of VRDs
11. Internet Voting
11.1 The DC Pilot Test
11.2 Internet Risks
11.3 Early Reports
11.4 Misconceptions
11.5 Ignoring the Obvious
11.6 Military Voting
11.7 Some Other Countries
11.8 The Future of Internet Voting
12. Missed Opportunities
12.1 The Role of Public Interest Groups
12.2 The Help America Vote Act (HAVA)
12.3 Efforts to reform HAVA
12.4 The 2008, 2010, 2012 Elections and Beyond
13. Voting, Counting, and Auditing
13.1 Manually Counting Ballots
13.2 Post-Election Audits and Recounts
13.3 Examining Other Aspects of Elections
13.4 Other Voting Models
13.5 Why Audits Matter
14. Conclusion
14.1 Recommendations
14.2 Looking Ahead

Appendix: Disability Rights Groups' Lawsuits
A.1 Lawsuits involving Jim Dickson or the AAPD
A.2 Lawsuits involving the NFB
References
Index

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 9, 2012

    When it comes to elections and verifiability, Doug Jones and Bar

    When it comes to elections and verifiability, Doug Jones and Barbara Simons are true experts that everyone can understand. And this book covers the issues everyone should understand

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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