The good news: When the largest voting jurisdiction in the nation gets its new voting system, perhaps as early as 2015, it will not including Internet Voting, according to Dean Logan, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk of Los Angeles. The bad news: It will very likely include touch-screen computers and, with them, 100% unverifiable voting. I interviewed Logan last week on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show [full audio interview is at the bottom of this article], and we had a very informative discussion about what voters in Los Angeles may have to look forward to in the coming years, as well as many of you in the rest of the country, since the new system is being designed with an eye towards selling it to other counties in California as well as in the rest of the country.
So this is not just a local L.A. story. It’s likely to affect the way that votes are cast and tallied in much of the nation. It’s well worth paying attention to, even if, unlike me, you don’t live here.
Los Angeles County alone “has more voters than 42 of the 50 states,” according to Logan’s office. It features nearly 5,000 precincts. Well over 3 million votes were cast in this one county alone during the November 6, 2012 Presidential Election. When Logan took over the job of Registrar after our previous one resigned, suddenly, just months before the 2008 President Election, he had a monster of a job to take over. It’s still a monster. And it may soon get even more gargantuan as he attempts to re-work, re-design and, indeed, re-think how voters vote here, and as we move from our current publicly-owned voting system to our next publicly-owned voting system. (L.A. is one of the very few jurisdictions in the nation which owns, maintains and designs its own system. Most similar systems in the rest of the state and nation are proprietary, owned by the private companies which make them, and don’t allow even the election officials in those jurisdictions access to their “trade-secret” software and source code.)
While, happily, Logan offered me some assurance that we won’t be casting votes over the Internet with his new system — an assurance that should bring some measure of relief to both Election Integrity advocates as well as the consensus of computer science and security experts who are also experts in voting systems — there is still much cause for concern, as this still-unknown voting system begins to take shape.