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ACLU of Ohio Sues To Block Paper Ballots 243

Apu writes in to inform us that the ACLU is trying to block an Ohio county from moving from touchscreen voting machines back to paper ballots. While it may seem like Cuyahoga County — which includes Cleveland — is moving in a good direction from the perspective of ballot security, the system chosen tabulates all votes at a central location. This means that voters don't get notified if their ballot contains errors, and thus they have no chance to correct it. The ACLU of Ohio is asking a federal judge for an injunction against any election in Cuyahoga County it they move to the new system.
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ACLU of Ohio Sues To Block Paper Ballots

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  • by buzzardsbay ( 989804 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @06:35PM (#22227970)
    ...from three major universities seems to say there's no problem at all with electronic voting [] and people trust it MORE than paper ballots.
  • by Irvu ( 248207 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @06:54PM (#22228190)
    So the title is misleading. The ACLU is filing suit against the county's decision to switch to Centrally-Counted optically scanned ballots where the ballots are filled out at the polling place and sent to a single central warehouse for scanning. They are not against Precinct-Counted optical scanners where they are scanned at the polling place.

    The crux of their argument is that central counts unlike precinct count and even mediocre touchscreens offer the user a warning when they overvote or undervote for a race thus warning them that they ballot may not be counted and thus giving them a chance to fix it. Their argument is that this lack of a warning (however poor) is likely to cause many errors that the voters are never aware of.

    So strictly speaking they are not against the use of paper ballots (it is my understanding that they favor them) just against this particular type of scanning system.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @07:28PM (#22228680)
    Did you actually read the article you are referencing?? The university studies only claim the machines get high marks in voter confidence and satisfaction (i.e. usability). It says nothing about receiving solid marks in accuracy and even talks about dropping accuracy rates when elections get complicated. Plus this little gem:

    According to the study, all of the voting methods tested were susceptible to various types of voter error, including missed votes and voting for the wrong candidate.
    Mod that dude down, he is not informative at all.
  • Re:Oh Bother (Score:3, Informative)

    by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @07:52PM (#22228946)

    How is someone's "civil liberties" encroached by using a paper ballot?

    They aren't. It's an incorrect heading (surprise). The ACLU is objecting to voters not knowing that the paper ballot they filled out will not scan correctly. They want the scantrons (or similar devices) at the polls, so you can verify that the ballot can be read. As is, no record will by made of the ballots until they are at a central location.

  • by defective_warthog ( 776271 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @08:37PM (#22229328) Journal
    Ohio wants to remove the security risks of M-100's at the precinct level by moving to M-650's at one location. This does remove several security risks associated with the M-100's. M-650's cannot detect the paper ballot's orientation. -paper ballots have to be manually sorted and stacked in the same orientation. M-650's are sensitive for such large machines. -they need to be level and stay level as they operate. M-650's will reject an over voted ballot because it's using the same ballot definitions as the M-100's (precinct level). M-100's can detect the paper ballot orientation. -votes on paper ballots get counted regardless of orientation of the ballot. M-100's can detect over voted ballots. -machine kicks the ballot out allowing the voter to correct their vote -precinct procedure should include accounting for spoiled paper ballots This centralized counting of paper ballots does not give a voter a chance to correct a mistake on an over voted ballot. A mistake that would be detected by M-100's if they were used at the precinct level. I think Ohio is over reacting to it's own Everest study. Most of the security problems associated with the M-100's can be controlled by proper training of the poll workers and improved access control measures at the county or precinct level. Ohio should look to how the M-100's have performed in North Carolina. But North Carolina has one of the strongest laws in the nation. And perhaps more trainable poll workers. -the defect
  • Yergh... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @11:50PM (#22230802)
    I see so many people (and US states) that have not a single clue on how to run a paper ballot based election properly. This is how virtually all ballots in Canada are cast. How do we know it is secure? A chain of accountability is made to ensure no tampering happens, through (ah! Just like US government, they say...) checks and balances.

      - Special paper, number of sheets printed by the printer and returned to elections Canada are compared
      - Three part ballots, consisting of a stub kept in the returning officer's book with a matching serial number to a serialized stub attached to the true ballot handed to the voter. The serialized stub is removed by the deputy officer before the voter puts the ballot in the box and collected and tallied against the returning officer's book (no-one may look at the ballot's contents at any time it is in the voter's possession).
      - When a voter enters to vote, their name/address is verified against their voter card (mailed to the voter earlier) and a line is placed through their name on the deputy officer's list. After they have finished voting, their name has a check placed beside it.
      - Deputy and retuning officers may not leave the premises during the vote.
      - Candidate's representatives are permitted (one from each party) to attend any and all polling stations for all functions of voting.
      - Should there be a need to move the ballot box at any time, such as so a disabled voter may vote when the polling station is not accessible, all parties to the vote (representatives and officers) are to supervise and approve this.
      - Ballots and box may not leave the premises until counted and reported.
      - Counting of the ballots is to be supervised by candidate's representatives while the room is locked so no-one may enter or leave.
      - Number of ballots counted vs. number of people that have voted vs. stubs are compared.
      - ALL MATERIALS that are NOT ballots (but used during the election) are placed in a sealed envelope, along with the results of the counted ballots, and the envelope placed in the ballot box.
      - Special cellphones provided to the officers by elections canada for only elections canada use are used to clarify unusual situations and report the results of the vote.
      - Special elections canada tape is used to tape the box.
      - The box is then returned by the officers to elections canada, where the results are counted again and compared to the results reported. All ballots are kept for a specified time after the election is complete so a recount may be preformed.
      - Spoiled ballots are to be agreed upon as such by all parties to counting the vote. Disagreements are to be recorded and reported.

    Since there are representatives of all candidates at the polling stations (sometimes there may not be representatives of all candidates at all polling stations, it is a voluntary option for the candidate to provide representatives) and two unrelated officers (at a minimum) at each polling booth, it is virtually impossible to get away with "stuffing the ballot" especially with the above procedures in place. To get away with it would take the co-operation of at least a half dozen people, and that would lead only to, at best, a few hundred ballots (only at a large booth -- when I participated as a representative, my poll had 32 people registered on the list, clearly trying to stuff more than 32 ballots in the box would be pointless as they are recounted later) that are swayed.

    For those that think this procedure takes too long, we are able to get the results of the election so quickly, Canada has passed laws to prevent the results of ridings being released before the election has been completed in your province (which, obviously, leads to exciting arguments on the internet about how BC votes are pointless as the election is already "decided" before they even get to vote).

    Special rule:

      - If you are given a ballot, you must return it. You may not eat it [], or otherwise decide to keep it for yourself.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva