Book Description

Broken Ballots begins with a comprehensive history of the use of technology in elections, starting with mechanical voting machines in the 19th century. Many of the problems that emerged then continue to plague modern electronic voting machines. The authors go on to illustrate how both legislation and the regulatory structure governing voting equipment have been ineffective at addressing technological risks – risks that frequently outstrip the understanding of election administrators and regulators. The result has been a series of failures where there is reason to doubt the official vote count correctly reflected the intent of the voters. Both Democrats and Republicans have been the victims of these failures. The book ends with a prescriptive summary that includes recommendations for policies and legislation to better protect the democratic process.


Broken Ballots provides clear and definitive answers to the questions: “How did our voting systems get to be the way they are?”, “Are our voting systems secure?” and “What can be done to improve the way we vote?” Using examples from the earliest mechanical voting machines to today's proposals for voting over the Internet, it provides numerous vivid illustrations of the risks of using complex technology to collect and count our votes. It covers not only technology, but also election law, government policy and regulation, accessibility of voting systems, and the history of voting machine companies in the United States.

This book is extremely well researched and exceptionally well-written. The breadth and depth of coverage bear witness to the authors' long involvement with these issues.

This wonderful book is essential reading for anyone concerned about the security of our election systems: vendors, election officials, technologists, election integrity activists, and voters.

— Ronald L. Rivest, Viterbi Professor of Computer Science in MIT's EECS Department, an ACM Turing Award winner, and a co-founder of RSA Data Security and of Verisign. He has served on the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), advisory to the Election Assistance Commission with respect to the establishment of voting system certification guidelines, and is a member of the CalTech/MIT Voting Technology Project.

Americans want to believe their votes are counted reliably, fairly, and fully, yet they have a nagging suspicion that all is not well in our country's voting systems. Broken Ballots chronicles in the greatest detail how these suspicions have been examined and how improvements have been pursued, rejected, implemented, or defeated. Jones and Simons detail the intricacies involved in maintaining the integrity of voting procedures and technologies and in protecting the outcome of elections from error or manipulation.

Presenting evidence that ballot box access and security are under serious threat by the push for unauditable voting machines and untested and unsecured internet-based voting, Broken Ballots forces us to examine closely our electoral process. As a nation, we must take a serious look at the suggestions provided by Jones and Simons and enact the legislation needed to make strides toward secure, accessible, and verifiable elections. What can be more important?

— Rush Holt, U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 12th congressional district.

The cornerstone of our democracy is the right to vote and the right to have that vote counted as it was intended. Broken Ballots first demonstrates clearly and compellingly the extent to which that right is in jeopardy. Then it lays out a plan to preserve and protect that right. Kudos to the authors and to all those fighting to safeguard our democracy.

— Kevin Shelley, Former California Secretary of State.

Broken Ballots is an extremely useful book on an extraordinarily important subject: will your vote count? As this book convincingly shows, the combination of defective technology and poor regulation have too often meant that votes are miscounted, or not counted at all.

The book provides a comprehensive history of the use of voting technology in the United States, but its heart is the "voting technology battles" that followed the 2000 election. That election, as the authors note, demonstrated more dramatically than any other the impact that flawed technology can have on election outcomes.

Simons and Jones were not mere spectators to these battles, they have been important players. They make no apologies for their opposition to paperless computerized voting machines, or to internet voting. While not everyone will agree with their characterization of all the battles of the last decade, they provide a cogent and clear critique of current election administration and regulation, and offer several common sense solutions for increasing the accuracy and fairness of our elections.

This book is a must read, not only for election officials and other policy makers, but also for public interest groups who seek to protect the vote and, indeed, for every citizen who wants his or her vote to be counted.

— Frederick A. O. (“Fritz”) Schwarz, Jr., Chief Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law and recipient of the New York State Bar Association’s Gold Medal for distinguished service in the law.

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