Black Box Voting

From Academic Kids

Black Box Voting is voting on electronic machines which don't print paper ballots.

Many citizens are concerned that such electronic voting machines can be rigged. If a computer programmer for one of the private companies which makes such machines writes code which steals votes, it will be difficult to detect-particularly if the company uses closed source and fails to use sound digital authentication techniques. Afterwards, if election results are suspicious, there is no way to do a meaningful recount.

In the U.S. presidential election, 2004, about 25% of voting was done on electronic voting machines. In federal elections in Canada, by contrast, votes are cast with paper ballots, and Canadians usually get election results the same night.

The term "Black Box Voting" was recently popularized by author and activist Bev Harris, who wrote a book with that title and runs the BlackBoxVoting.org (http://www.blackboxvoting.org) website. The term was coined by David Allen, her publisher, technical consultant and co-writer. The formal definition is found on page 4 (http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-1.pdf) of the book:

Black Box Voting: Any voting system in which the mechanisms for recording and/or tabulating the vote are hidden from the voter, and/or the mechanisms lacks a tangible record of the vote cast.

Harris split with Allen in the Spring of 2004. Allen runs the BlackBoxVoting.com web site (http://www.blackboxvoting.com/) which continues to publish news pieces on electronic voting.

There is a bill in Congress to ban Black Box Voting by requiring all electronic voting machines to print paper ballots. The bill also requires some of those ballots to be audited and stored for possible recounts. The bill is titled Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003 and it was introduced by Congressman Rush D. Holt, Jr. (D-NJ).

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