Sorry for the quickie today, but my lease is up and it's final move-out time.
I'd like to call the world's attention to this SF Gate story about the ironclad security of electronic voting machines. It appears that in a recent simulated exercise, state-sponsored teams of hackers (CS professors, private citizens, etc) were able to infiltrate, take control of, and alter data in the electronic voting machines used in many California counties.
I tell my students the following about EVMs: imagine that I gave an oral final exam. I read the questions, and the students gave me a verbal answer. When the test ended, I'd tell them "OK, that was a C-". No additional information, no record of what they did right or wrong, no way to review or re-evaluate the answers. Just an outcome. That's electronic voting in a nutshell. I may have to update the anecdote, however, to include the possibility that random computer hackers could infiltrate me (!!!) and dictate the mysterious grade at which I'd arrive.
What explains the fascination with switching over to EVMs? They're not cheap. They're not reliable. They're not secure from manipulation by outside parties. They don't reduce the number of poll workers required. There's just no compelling argument for them beyond "There are some problems with paper ballots" and a 1950s-ish awe at the wonders of technology that assumes anything with a plug to be superior to its non-electrical counterparts.