First there's the problem of just printing up all the ballots ahead of time and getting them right. Then there's the issue of each district will have different ballots. And so on and so forth. And this is apparently a fairly large problem.
Then there's the problem of what if the person is blind or impared (my 80 year old father has problems holding a pencil...)? Or what if the person can't read?
Then there are validity problems - what if the person accidentially checks two boxes on the same race without noticing it (the butterfly ballot in Florida in 2000 is a poster child for this). What if they don't check any box - that may or may not be intentional? And so on and so forth.
I totally agree that a paper ballot is the best way. And computers can be used to trivially fix all the above problems. And they should ONLY be used to address the above problems. The final output should be a paper ballot - as you say, it's a lot harder to hack. And as others on this thread have stated, if you require the user to take the ballot, fold it and put it in a box, then they may actually check that the thing says what they mean it to say.
Some nice side effect:
- the computer generating the ballot can tally the vote as it goes along, making for a nice quick count
- you can make the generated ballot easy to read by computer, so (re-)counting the ballots is also easy.
I get the impression that the election officials are sick and tired of it, and that's driving a lot of this. I can understand not wanting to deal with paper ballots anymore. Also, all these election officials have already purchased these crappy systems and they don't want to have the egg on their face and admit that this was a bad purchase - so it's a face saving thing. They also literally don't have the money to buy different sytems.
But at some point everyone has to admit that the systems are broken (and clearly now with Diebold). Whoever approved them in the first place was an idiot. But I also see somethings that make me believe that these people want to make it easy to hack, which is really *really* disturbing. They don't want any kind of audit trail or anything that makes verifying this easy. It's like they want to cheat at this thing.
Anyway, enough of a rant now...
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