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Broken Ballots
Will Your Vote Count in the Electronic Age?

Douglas W. Jones and Barbara Simons

For many of us, the presidential election of 2000 was a wake-up call. The controversy following the vote count led to demands for election reform. But the new voting systems that were subsequently introduced to the market have serious security flaws, and many are confusing and difficult to use. Moreover, legislation has not kept up with the constantly evolving voting technology, leaving little to no legal recourse when votes are improperly counted. How did we come to acquire the complex technology we now depend on to count votes? Douglas Jones and Barbara Simons probe this question, along with public policy and regulatory issues raised by our voting technologies. Broken Ballots is a thorough and incisive analysis of the current voting climate that approaches American elections from technological, legal, and historical perspectives. The authors examine the ways in which Americans vote today, gauging how inaccurate, unreliable, and insecure our voting systems are. An important book for election administrators, political scientists, and students of government and technology policy, Broken Ballots is also a vital tool for any voting American.

April 2012 (electronic version, August 2012)

Authors' web page on the book

Testimonials for Broken Ballots

“Americans want to believe their votes are counted reliably, fairly, and fully, yet they have a nagging suspicion that all is not well in our country's voting systems. Broken Ballots chronicles in the greatest detail how these suspicions have been examined and how improvements have been pursued, rejected, implemented, or defeated. Jones and Simons detail the intricacies involved in maintaining the integrity of voting procedures and technologies and in protecting the outcome of elections from error or manipulation.

“Presenting evidence that ballot box access and security are under serious threat by the push for unauditable voting machines and untested and unsecured internet-based voting, Broken Ballots forces us to examine closely our electoral process. As a nation, we must take a serious look at the suggestions provided by Jones and Simons and enact the legislation needed to make strides toward secure, accessible, and verifiable elections. What can be more important?”

Representative Rush Holt (NJ-12)
April 9, 2012

“The cornerstone of our democracy is the right to vote and the right to have that vote counted as it was intended. Broken Ballots first demonstrates clearly and compellingly the extent to which that right is in jeopardy. Then it lays out a plan to preserve and protect that right. Kudos to the authors and to all those fighting to safeguard our democracy.”

Kevin Shelley
Former California Secretary of State

Broken Ballots is the definitive source of information about voting technology, past and present. But it is not purely focused on technology issues; it also thoroughly examines the policy issues surrounding the use of various voting technology. Most importantly, it documents the history of how these issues have been dealt over the centuries.

“The authors were directly involved in making some of that history in the last decade. This recent history is a particularly fascinating case study of many aspects of the making of policy about the use of technology, including the roles of business, election officials, politicians, activist, and technologists.

“It is not possible to understand elections without understanding the technology that makes them function (or malfunction). This book is essential reading for anyone who cares about elections.”

Professor David Dill
Computer Science
Stanford University


1 Introduction  1
A Book Overview 3
2 Deja Vu All Over Again  7
2.1 The First Round 8
2.2 The First Voting Mechanisms 15
2.3 The Australian Ballot 18
2.4 How Secret? 20
2.5 Voting Machines 21
2.6 Industrialization 25
2.7 Consolidation and Monopoly 28
2.8 Adopting Voting Machines 30
3 How Did We Get Here?  33
3.1 Scandal in Chicago 35
3.2 Fraud and Reform in the Interwar Era 38
3.3 Problems with Mechanical Voting Machines 42
3.4 The Rise of the Punched Card 46
3.5 The Trouble With Chad 50
3.6 The Success of the Votomatic 52
3.7 What's Wrong with the Votomatic 55
4 Filling in the Bubble  59
4.1 Central-Count Machines 64
4.2 Precinct-Count Machines 66
4.3 Mark-Sense Machines in Action 75
4.4 What is a Vote?  80
4.5 The Human Element  81
4.6 Image-Based Mark Sensing  85
4.7 New Directions  89
5 Trusting in Technology 91
5.1 Voting by Electricity  93
5.2 The First Generation at the Polls  96
5.3 Second Generation DRE Voting Systems  101
5.4 What's Wrong with DRE Voting?  108
5.5 Voter Verifiability  111
5.6 Experimental Studies  117
5.7 What Happened in Sarasota?  119
6 Establishing a Standard 123
6.1 The Press for Standards  126
6.2 The 1990 Voting System Standards  129
6.3 2002 and Interim Standards  139
6.4 The Help America Vote Act of 2002  141
6.5 The IEEE steps in  148
6.6 Continuing Developments  152
6.7 International Standards  155
7 The Problems with Diebold 159
7.1 Overview  160
7.2 Early Events  162
7.3 Early State Diebold Studies  167
7.4 Demonstrations of Election Rigging  171
7.5 Some Later State Diebold Studies  177
7.6 Linda Lamone and Maryland  182
7.7 What Can We Learn from Diebold?  187
8 The California Soap Opera 189
8.1 Some Early Events  190
8.2 Shelley Battles Vendors & Election Officials  192
8.3 California's Revolving Door  201
8.4 More Diebold Revelations  204
8.5 The Top to Bottom Review  207
8.6 Conclusion  212
9 Voters with Disabilities  215
9.1 A Story 215
9.2 A Second Story 217
9.3 Many Voices 218
9.4 Some Early Legislation and Litigation 221
9.5 The AAPD 223
9.6 Vendor Financial Contributions 227
9.7 Lawsuits 232
9.8 How Accessible are DREs? 236
9.9 What Lies Ahead? 238
10 The Right to Vote  241
10.1 Some Background 243
10.2 Issues Relating to Voter Registration 251
10.3 Studies and Proposed Reforms 254
10.4 Voter Registration Databases (VRDs) 257
10.5 The Future of VRDs 262
11 Internet Voting  265
11.1 The DC Pilot Test 265
11.2 Internet Risks 269
11.3 Early Reports 279
11.4 Misconceptions 281
11.5 Ignoring the Obvious 284
11.6 Military Voting 286
11.7 Some Other Countries 296
11.8 The Future of Internet Voting 301
12 Missed Opportunities  303
12.1 The Role of Public Interest Groups 305
12.2 The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) 311
12.3 Efforts to Reform HAVA 313
12.4 The 2008, 2010, 2012 Elections and Beyond 327
13 Voting, Counting, and Auditing  329
13.1 Manually Counting Ballots 330
13.2 Post-Election Audits and Recounts 333
13.3 Examining Other Aspects of Elections 338
13.4 Other Voting Models 340
13.5 Why Audits Matter 344
14 Conclusion  345
14.1 Recommendations 347
14.2 Looking Ahead 352
Appendix: Disability Rights Groups' Lawsuits  355
A.1 Lawsuits involving Jim Dickson or the AAPD 355
A.2 Lawsuits involving the NFB 356
References  357
Index  423

ISBN (Paperback): 9781575866369
ISBN (Cloth): 9781575866376
ISBN (electronic): 9781575866499

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