Oh, Hell No

From an article in today’s Washington Post:

The King Conservation District election is offering technology to any registered voter who wishes to cast their ballot from a mobile device or a computer. Voters can log in to a portal and vote. Their selections are then recorded in a PDF file, which election officials say will be printed to create a paper trail.

Sorry, this is not how “a paper trail” works.

For there to be a paper trail, it must start with the voter him or herself, who inspects a physical document representing his or her vote and approves it as correct. That happens in traditional hand-counted paper balloting (where the official ballot is itself the paper trail). It also happens in Washington state’s current vote-by-mail system (same reason, only this time the ballot is a computer form with inked-in ovals). It can even happen in a touchscreen system where the voter is presented with a receipt (which is collected and saved by the election authority) to inspect.

It most emphatically does not happen in the clusterfuck of a system described above, where the PDF is generated on a server somewhere, with an unverifiable promise that it will be printed sometime later. If the voter him or herself does not directly create or supervise the creation of the start of the paper trail, it is not in fact a proper paper trail.

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