Comparing Voting Computers To Electric Meters

Update:  Courant Editorial calls for Independent Audit <read>

We often hear voting computers compared to ATMs. We have debunked the notion that Voting Computers can be trusted like ATMs. Today an article by the Courant’s consumer watchdog, George Gombossy, Once Again Meter Madness, has me considering how Connecticut’s Voting Computers and Electric Meters are the same and different.

I suggest reading Gombossy’s article 1st and then returning here for the comparison: <read>
Same: Voting computers and electric meters are complex pieces of equipment that the ordinary citizen and voting official do not understand.

Different: The case of an electric meter is often transparent with a counter you can read that records usage by the customer. Voting computers have internal meters controlled by software that nobody can see or read as votes are accumulated.

Same: Both are sealed with tamper evident seals.

Different: Meter seals are there to keep the customer from stealing electricity. Voting Computer seals are there to keep insiders from stealing democracy.

Same: Meters are read and audited by employees of the electric company that is charged (no pun intended) with charging customers accurately. Voting computers are read and audited by election officials charged with running elections with integrity.

Same: When their electric meters are audited, the customer may be restricted to standing at a distance which precludes the actual observation of the function of the meter. When voting computers are audited the public may be restricted to standing at a distance which precludes the actual observation of the marks on the ballots being counted and the results being tabulated.

Different: The Courant’s watchdog has spent several columns investing and bringing the important issue of electric meter accuracy to the attention of the public. The Courant’s editorial page has, in the face of contrary evidence, touted the accuracy of our voting computers.

Different: The Attorney General is calling for independent testing of a suspect electric meter that has passed two tests by the electric utility. The Secretary of the State, some registrars, and at least one State Representative are considering calling for the elimination of manual recounts of our voting computers, even as some of those recounts and audits show differences in the voting computer results and the manual hand count of the voters intent.

Same: Just because many electric meters are tested and work, it does not mean that all electric meters will work correctly all the time. Just because many voting computers are tested and work, it does not mean that all voting computers will work correctly all the time.

Different: When your electric meter does not work, you get an odd, suspect, transparent bill that can be a trigger to you or the electric company to look for an explanation. When your voting computer flips votes, unless it is audited carefully, nobody will ever know.

Different: All electric meters of the same model are the same unless there is a mechanical flaw in one meter. Voting computers are programmed separately for each election, each district, and each race – each is a unique opportunity for error or fraud involving many voting computers.

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