Tokaji on VVPAT debate

Dan Tokaji has a provocative essay on Equal Vote, “A Remarkable Turn in the Paper Trail Debate.” Dan writes about an op-ed recently written by Bev Harris, of Black Box Voting. The bottom line is that in this op-ed, Harris comes out against Congressman Rush Holt’s H.B. 550: “Black Box Voting believes that H.B. 550 is unwise. It will not be effective to improve citizen oversight or election integrity. It is dangerous, because the weakness of the antibiotic will create a more resistant strain of election manipulation.” She concludes by arguing that ” H.B. 550 doesn’t do much of anything to get at the core problem, which is secrecy.” Holt’s bill would require that electronic voting machines produce a paper record that voters could view before casting their ballot.

Importantly, Dan concludes his essay on a pretty optimistic note:

One of the things that’s most remarkable to me about Black Box Voting piece is that it suggests some convergence of views among electronic voting skeptics and those of us who’ve been skeptical of the VVPAT. I’ve noticed that e-voting skeptics have become increasingly aware of the problems that exist with at least some of the VVPAT devices now being marketed — and in fact being used in some jurisdictions in this year’s election. On the other hand, at least some longtime VVPAT skeptics, myself included, have increasingly come to appreciate the security and transparency concerns that really do exist with the present generation of voting technology.
Although some continue desperately cling to the idea that the VVPAT is the answer, the debate appears to be moving beyond the simplistic “PAPER=SECURITY” slogans that have mostly dominated the public discourse. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but I take this to be an encouraging sign.

Perhaps Dan is right, and perhaps the paper trail debate may move beyond the equation of paper and security.