Voting: I’d Like a Receipt, Please

I’m really not a conspiracy theorist, just a subscriber to Murphy’s Law (see this post.) Recently, Avi Ruben of Johns Hopkins’ Information Security Institute (co-author of this pdf paper criticizing the security of Diebold’s electronic voting systems) worked as an election judge in Baltimore County. Charles Kuffner has Rubin’s report.

Basically, Rubin says voters liked the system, but it’s still not safe. Here’s an amusing anectdote from Rubin’s day at the polls:

Perhaps the lightest moment in the day came when one voter standing at his machine asked in the most deadpan voice, “What do I do if it says it is rebooting?” Head judge Marie turned white, and Joy’s mouth dropped. My heart started to beat quickly, when he laughed and said “just kidding.” There was about a two second pause of silence followed by roaring laughter from everyone.

I found the reaction to that joke interesting. Everybody was willing to believe that this had happened, and yet when it became clear that it didn’t, we all felt relief. I’m sure that the other judges would have claimed that this was impossible, and yet, for a brief instant, they all thought it had happened.