Comments: Everything counts in large amounts

Actually, the argument of the uncertainty paper introduces into the process is not so much about the perishability of the paper, as it is about the increased level of complexity that paper processes insert into the technology. In short, adding a printer (or, in the case of Houston, dramatically increasing the number of printouts made) onto the voting machine adds a lot of mechanical (as opposed to strictly electronic) moving parts, which are far more likely to malfunction, jam, or generally gum up the works. And a voting machine having to be taken off-line in the middle of voting day can, I think, justify concerns about an increase in uncertainty over an entirely paperless alternative.

This is not necessarily a compelling argument against a paper trail, but neither is it as ridiculous an argument as you make it out to be.

Posted by Scott at December 8, 2006 08:19 PM

She's right, paper is totally perishable. I want them to give me a granite slate with my vote carved into it. Preferably by a cute wise-cracking little pterodactyl.

Posted by Doug Orleans at December 8, 2006 11:02 PM

Thanks, Scott, I appreciate the clarification. It's true that as the number of mechanical bits of something increases, the likelihood of something going awry does as well. Maybe one solution would be to make the printers a replaceable component of a voting machine, so that if a printer failed, it could be replaced without having to replace the whole machine.

Anyway, the thing that made her argument seem spurious was her use of the word "perishable", which gave her response an air of "I'm just trying to come up with any reason to oppose changing the system we have, because I am a lazy bureaucrat."

Posted by Francis at December 10, 2006 11:04 AM

And I'll grant that I have little doubt that her use of the word "perishable" was in response to a total lack of understanding of what it was that she was saying, from a technical standpoint. I would like to believe that she was briefed on the issue by a staff person who actually understands the technology, but with a county clerk's office, even of a sizable county, that isn't especially likely.

Posted by Scott at December 11, 2006 08:30 PM
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