The NYC Board of Elections
New York NY
William Zeph Ginsberg AIA
My name is William Zeph Ginsberg. I am a registered architect and the program chairman for NYPC, the Tri-State area’s largest Computer Users Group. This is the groups 24th year. This is my background, but I am speaking here as an individual.
I love computers, I use multiple programs daily both professionally and personally and they have changed my life for the better.
However, I am also very familiar with many of the things that can go wrong either accidentally or maliciously. No voting machine should be allowed to check itself without frequent independent outside examination and a verifiable paper trail.
No machine should be purchased from a vendor that refuses to make their computer source code available to the Board of Elections. A great deal of money is involved in the purchase of these machines and to paraphrase an old saying “A billion here, and a billion there in lost sales, gets a vendors attention.”
An optically scanned paper ballot filled out by hand, or printed by machine and then fed into a high speed scanner provides a reliable audit trail. The voter gets to check his or her own ballot, and in case of a dispute an authorize group from all parties can observe the manual count. The more eyes verifying the ballot count the better. This system can accommodate blind or disabled voters.
The paper ballots can be stored in a secure sealed container. Of course a paper ballot can be tampered with if someone were to add extraneous marks or erasures. But this would be far more visible and controllable then relying solely on multiple computers to perform flawlessly with no reliable external audit trail.
It is a trivial matter for a programmer to change computer code so that the voter sees his vote correctly and the machine changes the count internally. The rogue computer program can then erase its tracks and become invisible. If there is a challenge the optically scanned paper ballot should be the one that counts.