HR 550 does not solve the digital ballot problem. It creates the false illusion that it does, and moves us in the wrong direction.
A second and third ballot -- the paper audit trail and bar code -- will result in increased legal disputes, uncertainty, and loss of voter confidence.
Digital ballots must be outlawed -- until it can be proven that they can be made transparent, anonymous, and verifiably secure and accurate. At present they are not.
For an election to be trustworthy, the recording, interpretation, and counting of each eligible elector's intent must be verified and performed in a fully transparent and anonymous manner. The public must believe that results reflect the intent of the voters.
The problem with direct record electronic (DRE) voting equipment is that it records votes electronically. Digital ballots have been permitted to evolve because of two major flaws:
1. Wrong requirements -- Voting equipment vendors and election officials are recklessly attempting to reduce cost and increase convenience. They are ignoring the non-negotiable requirements. Reduce cost and increase convenience only when an election system is: (a) transparent, (b) anonymous, and (c) verifiably secure and accurate. To sacrifice any of these higher requirements will result in an untrustworthy election.
2. Wrong architecture -- Some people incorrectly assume that private voting for disabled voters requires digital ballots. A user interface for disabled-voters does not require that votes be stored on digital ballots. Votes must be stored on a medium that can be (a) transparent, (b) anonymous, and (c) verifiably secure and accurate. Paper meets these requirements.
Elections are intended to be deterministic (you get the same results no matter how many times you re-calculate). Surveys are understood to be stochastic (they are subject to probabilistic behavior). Checking samples of audit trails is not adequate verification.
What do we recommend?
1. Prohibit digital ballots and bar codes.
2. Require that user interfaces support paper ballots.
3. Require the same ballot for absentee, polling place and provisional voting.