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[ale] OT: Town hall meeting this Thursday re Diebold voting machines

I Was There, along with about 100 other folks.

The meeting included a demonstration of a competing voting machine which
actually had a printer capable of producing a voter-verified paper trail
attached. Alas, it was a Lose machine.  And it was unclear to me
standing in the back of the room whether the voter could carry away a
piece of paper certifying his vote. This of course would be a
fundamental mistake ("Bring me your receipt and make sure it says the
Right Thing or I'll Fire You").

Several folks spoke, including the reviled Cynthia Mckinney -- who
managed not to tick me off too radically. There was a lot of idiot OT
political chatter, including a comment by one speaker "Where are the
weapons?", which I misheard as "Wear the weapons!". This made no sense
to me, nor did the burst of applause and laughter which followed.
Fortunately, the security guard at the gate din't search anyone and
accepted my word that I was "Harpo Marx" on the sign-in sheet. Dontcha
just love Security Theater?

I was first in the Q&A, with a disorganized and confused commment to the
effect that if we have paper ballots, and the first word out of any
losing politico's mouth will be "I want a paper recount", what do we
need the computers for? The panel seemed to think that computers would
still make it easier for people to vote by providing a superior
interface for the blind, the lame, the halt and the stupid.  Alas,if
they still must validate on paper I still don't see quite what the point
of the rest of the hardware is. Oh well.

Aaron B. made an eloquent statement as representative of the Electronic
Freedom of Georgia folks (http://efga.org/). Bob Toxen also spoke,
giving a detailed and well-organized summary of the specific
vulnerabilities of the Diebold system. Several other people also
expressed themselves with varying degrees of on-topic-hood and

Several other ALE folks and other miscellaneous coder types were there,
as well as a large contingent of loony left and other folks. Cathy Cox
was absent.

The whole thing was broadcast over WRFG and even mentioned on some TV
news according to my wife. The local sound engineering was notably poor,
with persistent feedback problems and participants having to use
multiple microphones simultaneously.

But heck, kudos to the organizers. Any self-respecting geek should
join the fight on this issue.

-- CHS

On Thu, 2004-01-29 at 17:20, Bob Toxen wrote:
> I'm leaving shortly for this.  Please consider going!
> Drop 101 Aurburn Ave., Atlanta into maps.yahoo.com/dd for dirs.
> Bob Toxen