June 7, 2004

How to negotiate the e-voting issue...

Bizta, one of the Venezuelan companies hired by CNE to automate the vote-counting process, put its position across today. Though I'm not an expert, their explanation sounds plausible to me.

I don't think the opposition should be inflexible on automation. They should accept automation but with key security guarantees:

1-An independent auditor should be allowed to inspect the tallying software in the Smartmatic/Bizma/Cantv system and should be allowed to randomly inspect machines on the day of the vote, to ensure the inspected software is actually running on election day. If they have nothing to hide, the software code will be compact and transparent to an expert observer. You do not need 8 million lines of code to program a voting machine. Compact code=transparency.

2-Thre must be a paper trail, and on the spot verification of the automated totals. The experience with Diebold in the US makes this painfully clear.

In order for such guarantees to be credible, international observers must be present on voting day.