Truth, Lies, & Politics

When is a coincidence too much of a
coincidence to be one?

The "He Did It / She Did It"
Business Model for Elections

Did you know that most advocates of paper ballot technology are fuddy-
duddy, itchy-witchy thinking, nervous Nelly, skittish souls over 40?
That's the gist of an article that re-circulated recently. Perhaps it was
penned by a reporter who never balanced a bank account.

Nonetheless, the resurgence of the article triggered a lively thought
provoking e-debate and introduced again the need to look at elections
and counting votes from a business perspective.

The importance of the business perspective and business model points
of view cannot be overstated. In part because,
until we define the
problem we're trying to solve, we will never solve the
. That is to reliably count votes and prove the number of votes
we count is correct today, correct tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
One voter --- one vote, one count. Every time.

Fraud isn't committed all the time. Mistakes aren't rampant every
election. Technological failure doesn't occur every election. But had
"we" followed good business practices, we never would have bought into
paperless touchscreens (to count 100 votes per machine) as a voting
method in the first place. In fact, had we followed good business
practices, Florida would have sent 2000 and 2006 back to the voters in
precincts where the voting process failed.

From a business model perspective, who owns the ultimate
responsibility? Nobody. The fox guards the henhouse. Our election
business "model" encourages the classic "he did it / she did it" method
to problem definition and solution.

  • The Secretary of State certifies the machines as a working and
    acceptable means of recording and counting votes. Except that as
    underscored in the GAO's Sarasota reports, this process is
    blatantly inadequate, in part because the Secretary of State tests
    ES&S machines following ES&S recommendations using ES&S
    created test data.

  • The Election Supervisor relies on that all important Secretary of
    State certification to establish a baseline from which to implement
    his or her ballots for each election. Even the most obscure and
    seemingly benign faults not detected by the Secretary of State
    could result in catastrophic failures during an election, particularly
    one with complex ballots and high turnout. The failure very likely
    would not be caught by the Election Supervisor's cursory testing to
    make sure a ballot works.

  • When a problem occurs, no one wants to publically admit to flaws
    in the process. So the voter becomes the convenient scapegoat.
    The voter has no voice. In effect there is no problem.

Except in Florida, voters' voices were heard. So we rushed out to buy
new machines, a new solution. But we still haven't corrected the
problem. Our business model has not changed.

Until we develop an election business model that includes high standards
for recognizing flawed election results and insists on prompt and
consistent corrective action (such as a re-vote by hand if necessary), we
cannot ensure all votes will be counted and counted accurately. Until we
develop an election business model that requires sound business
practices, independent audits, comprehensive computer development
and testing methods, and looks rationally at the problem we're trying to
solve, we cannot guarantee that any voting technology (DRE, optical
ballot scanner, e-voting, mail, or hand counts) will succeed.

Original article published in OpEdNews

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Conspiracy to Skulldubbery
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Mistakes Flip the Win
Government Accountability Office GAO
GAO Summary of Articles
No Smoking Gun Not if but when
Articles A Potpourri
Election Conspiracy at the Moosylvania Gazette
Conspiracy Theory OpEd Headline
Election officials 4 years to get it right -  Not just a NY Problem
Kurt Browning: The dog ate my ballot.
Peeling the Onion
ES&S Monopoly
Letter to Election Assistance Commission
Other Assorted Articles Part 1
Pther Assorted Articles Part 2
Press Release