Here’s how to fix the voting system in America.
Use the current library system as polling places. They are already wired for the Internet. Have folks cast from secure connections from either their home computer (with digital id and password) or go to their local library where possible. If neither option is available to the voter, the town halls, etc. can be used.
For the election, disconnect the public machines from the internet and let them count votes with a real-time CD backup of the voting. No external access during voting other than between the voter and his/her voting file. Even if a machine goes down during the voting process, use another and the non-functioning one can be corrected after the election with sufficient witnesses.
Each vote can be printed out, like you print out an Excel spread sheet, one approved copy with the polling place, and one with the voter. The hard copy can have a machine number on it to help with any necessary recount based on citizen verification.
Once a machine is open for voting, no human access allowed until counting time. No external media or adjustments allowed in the machine.
I’ve been thinking about this for a long time.
I lived in NYC from the early 1970’s to the late 1990’s. In the early 90’s I was helping a friend, Al Davis, run for congress against Charles Rangel. Under Rangel’s rule, Harlem went into the pits, from a place of hope to one of deep despair. Crack and AIDS hit the community hard, cancers and a high infant mortality rate added to the depression. Harlem's political leadership kept the focus on music and hopelessness. “Live from the Apollo” rarely featured anyone from Harlem. The Empowerment Zone became known as the disempowerment zone, where funds were withheld and dreams destroyed by politicians who demanded entrepreneurs jump through a thousand hoops to be denied the money at the end of the process. They put it in the bank instead. Yet the same political management team was re-elected again and again. Still are. We use to joke how the dead outvoted the living every time.
Al Davis’s petition signatures were challenged by Congressman Rangel and valuable time Davis should have been spending campaigning was spent at the Board of Elections verifying signatures.
During that process the crew I was on found a lot of typographical errors in the voting registration computer. For example, a written card that the voter sent out for registration would read "Jim Lobe" and the computer operator would have mistakenly typed in "Jim Love." When Mr. Lobe went to the polls, his name would not be on the list and his vote not counted.
So I found out the qualifications for getting a job doing data entry at the Board of Elections.
1. Are you a member of a Democratic or Republican club?
2. Are you a member of a church with a Democratic or Republican Club?
3. Are you a registered voter?
The question that was missing was “can you type accurately for more than 5 minutes?” We found so many typographical errors on the BOE’s computers that they shut the system down and let our petitions through. I had suggested a "checker" but that idea was shot down faster than a falling star. I remember, being the drama queen that I am, reading the Declaration of Independence out loud just in case it might help. It didn't.
I was also a poll watcher in an election in Harlem. At the time I was a registered republican, from a family of Lincoln Republicans. (I am now a Kerry Democrat).
At that election, I was seeing two Democrats going into the voting booth with voters to “help them vote.” When I questioned the practice, I was told that there were no republicans in the house. I presented my voter registration card that showed I was. The police put me under house arrest (in the polls) and said I couldn’t talk with anyone since I was a registered poll watcher. I walked around my confined area first humming, then singing “we have overcome this day.” (My candidate, Carman Quinonnes, won.)
Since I broke no laws and was confined at the polling center, I was told that I don’t have a police record regarding the incident. Though I have been jacked by the police many times, I’ve never been arrested because every time I’ve been jacked, it’s not because I’ve broken any laws or was acting in an uncivilized way. Just Black in America, which is why I pay so much attention to this issue of voting.
In summary the way to fix the problems with voting is to move to stand alone, secure personal computers that are plugged into an intranet at the end of polling time, when votes are counted. We need to insure the integrity of the information we are using to run our lives by double checking the data entered into the Board of Elections computers. Citizens should verify how they voted with what is printed out on their receipt.
I've been an avid computer user since 1977 and I can assure you that the wise use of technology can provide us with a truth razor that can have a manual backup for revealing the Will of the People, peace, prosperity, safety, health, shelter, opportunity, education, 'and a great place to party.'
'We are overcoming now.'