Ohio Secretary of State on electronic voting machines

From http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/info/everest.aspx:

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio’s electronic voting systems have “critical security failures” which could impact the integrity of elections in the Buckeye State, according to a review of the systems commissioned by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.

“The results underscore the need for a fundamental change in the structure of Ohio’s election system to ensure ballot and voting system security while still making voting convenient and accessible to all Ohio voters, “ Secretary Brunner said Friday in unveiling the report.

“In an era of computer-based voting systems, voters have a right to expect that their voting system is at least as secure as the systems they use for banking and communication,” she said.

If that isn't seriously underrepresenting voters' rights and expectations, i don't know what to call it. With banking and communications systems there are appropriate failure modes. If an EFTPOS line goes down, we can pay cash, or use a manual credit card transaction. If someone steals my credit card details and uses them to buy things online, my liability is limited to $50 if i can demonstrate that i follow appropriate security practices. If my vote goes astray due to accidental or malicious electronic errors at the polling booth, no amount of recounts can fix it. The only failure mode is a by-election, which people generally see as undesirable.

While democracy has its warts, it's better than all of the other systems out there. (I'm sure Winston Churchill had a wittier version of that statement...) In my involvement with the last federal election, i discovered that there are a lot of things that make our democracy here in Australia a little less democratic than it should be (like who buys the best media coverage). Electronic voting machines magnify this possibility way out of proportion by raising the possibility that an entire election could be hijacked by an inside job, or, in a worst-case scenario, by a remote exploit. Anyone who cares the slightest amount about freedom should oppose vigorously any use of electronic voting systems without paper records and verification mechanisms.

(As an aside, electronic counting systems for paper ballots would offer huge speed and handling improvements, and could be easily manually checked.)