Torsten Otto on 15 Dec 2000 09:08:35 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Against computerised democracy

I wholeheartedly agree that companies should have nothing to do with
elections and that paper ballots seem the least corrupt way to hold
It is not true however, that one has to wait days or weeks for the
results. Elections in Germany are held in just that fashion and results
are to be had that night:
You go, have your name checked of the list and receive a ballot -
printed in clear letters, with obvious places where to mark your choice
of party and/or individual. With that you enter a cabin where a pen is
provided, make use of your electoral rights, fold the paper (and/or
stick it in an envelope - they're coming out of fashion for practical as
well as finacial/ecological reasons) and cast it in an urn that is
overseen by a member of the local voting committee.
After the elections are closed, the public is invited to oversee the
counting process which takes place right at the place the votes are
The papers are counted by hand, the results telephoned to a central
office. The counting (I've been part of that several times now) doesn't
take longer than an hour, unless the total doesn't come out with the
number of people checked off the list. In that case the counting starts
all over again. 
Usually, the results predicted by the TV stations minutes after the
closing of the election are pretty correct. They are derived mostly by
asking people right after they cast their actual vote. In the course of
the night (elections are always on Sunday, always end at 6pm), the
results are usually clear with the official numbers made public by
Monday noon -  no waiting for a week or two.
And in case someone doubts the results, the organized bundles of ballots
are there to be recounted.
Torsten Otto

McKenzie Wark wrote:
> from the New York Press
> Votescam 2000: The Real Scandal Is the Voting Machines Themselves

> No election system can ever be fraudproof or error-free. That doesnt mean
> we shouldnt try to improve on the dismal systems were using today. It just
> seems that casting votes on paper ballots, then counting and recounting
> them by hand, is the surest way to figure out who really won an election.
> Assuming mostly honest personnel, and barring breathtaking acts of
> ineptitude, human vote-counters will not, generally speaking, discard
> ballots by the thousands on a mere whim. Nor will they, unless they are
> severely reading-deficient or insane, record votes cast for one candidate
> as votes cast for another candidate.
> Further, it is much more conspicuous for a dishonest election official to
> issue new instructions to a group of human beings midway through a
> counting session than it is for a dishonest computer programmer to type a
> few new lines of code into a machine. Perhaps most importantly, there is
> nothing "proprietary" about a person picking up pieces of paper and going
> "one for this guy, one for that guy." If Americans, or at least the
> television networks Americans like to watch, werent so damned impatient,
> conducting elections completely on paper ballots would be the most
> sensible solution. Noncomputerized elections take a lot longer to produce
> results, theres no denying that. But we dont hold elections all that often
> in this country. We wait four years to vote for president. We cant wait
> another week or two to find out who won?

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