Blog Postings

In a fascinating new book ..., Douglas Jones and Barbara Simons take readers on a journey through historical issues with voting technologies to modern day issues and the finally ending with recommendations for today.

Whether you are Democrat, Republican, Independent or a member of another party, the integrity of the process is critical. As elections are now decided by a smaller and smaller number of votes, the perfection we expect will perhaps be scrutinized like never before.

— Skip Prichard. (In Leadership Insights.)

While this book is an indispensable reference for election administrators, policy makers, and legislators, it also provides important guidance to the voting public to help ensure that our votes are properly counted.

Broken Ballots is essential reading if you want to understand how we got to the crisis of the 2000 election, and where we are in 2012. The book reviews the history of voting technology and voting technology certification, and studies elections officials and voting rights advocates who work to improve public elections.

— Lillie Coney. (In EPIC Alert; see item 8.)

When it comes to elections and verifiability, Doug Jones and Barbara Simons are true experts that everyone can understand.

They discuss the basics of election verification, pre-election testing, election auditing, and internet voting. They also offer graphic examples of what went wrong in recent elections in Iowa and Florida, that were corrected based on paper ballots and post-election audits.

— Luther Weeks. (In

An important new book has just been published on the technology and policy of elections. Broken Ballots covers voting systems from the 19th century to the present, with particular focus on the last two decades. The authors describe the strengths and weaknesses of the machinery itself — lever machines, optical-scan vote counters, touchscreen voting computers — with technical sophistication, yet in a way that will be accessible to a wide audience. Then they describe the strengths and weaknesses of the policy processes — at the level of election administration, congressional legislation, and Federal administrative-branch agencies — with particular emphasis on the last 10 years. The authors are experts in the field of voting technology and policy, and it shows. The book is well researched with extensive citations, but it’s also a good read (with photos and illustrations) that has an interesting story to tell.

— Andrew Appel, Department Chair and Eugene Higgins Professor of Computer Science, Princeton University. (In Freedom to Tinker.)

In my opinion, it is the most thorough, well researched, and definitive publication on this subject that has ever been written — despite the reality that it was under perpetual gestation for many years, because the ground under our elections has continually shifted, although often not for the better. The commercial vendors undoubtedly will hate it, because it truly documents a reality in which the seams are unseemly, and the lack of accountability is almost unbelievable. But it is one of the most important books around for those who believe in democracy.

— Peter G. Neumann, Principal Scientist at SRI International, moderator of The Risks Digest: Forum On Risks To The Public In Computers And Related Systems, and recipient of the National Computer System Security Award in 2002. (In The Risks Digest.)