So I just finished voting here in San Jose using one of those Sequoia machines (same as last year). My in person impression hasn’t improved any.
1. Having to check all your votes twice (once on the screen and again on the paper printer) is a pain in the ass. Between state, county and city offices, bonds and measures it’s not only tedious to check, but error prone- especially since I don’t memorize whom I’m going to vote for in each race.
Ironically, the sample ballot that they mailed me was much simpler to use (just connect the arrow next to what/who you want to vote for), easy to verify, count and recount. And it takes a lot less time to vote since you don’t need to double and triple check that the machine didn’t screw up.
2. More importantly though, while the poll workers try to be helpful, they’re just not trained well enough. I was appalled to over hear one worker tell another how she removed the security sticker to open up the machine to “fix it”. Now, while she probably is honest and didn’t tamper with the machine (no way for me to prove otherwise), she now has violated the trust model of the election for that machine. The issue is that by breaking the security sticker, nobody can detect if anyone else tampers with the machine.
Unsurprisingly, the poll worker thought it was perfectly OK for her to break the seal and put it back in service, because she didn’t tamper with the machine. Aren’t there enough voting machine irregularities without the poll workers contributing to the problem?
Anyways, here are two videos about what’s going on with electronic voting:
First, is the HBO documentary Hacking Democracy.
Second, is the Daily Show’s John Hodgman’s comedic take on the machines.