According to University of Michigan Computer Science Professor Alex Halderman, who studies election technology, the only way to know if “votes were tabulated correctly” is to hand count the paper ballots, or other voter-verifiable paper trail, in an audit or “recount,” and compare the result against the electronic tally. Forensic audits are typically blocked by courts that side with counties and vendors arguing that their voting software is proprietary.
Professor of Statistics Philip B. Stark of U.C. Berkeley, who invented post-election Risk Limiting Audits (which are endorsed by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Verified Voting, and the American Statistical Association), says that, “hand-marked paper is more usable by voters without disabilities, not only for recording intent but also for verifying that the paper ballot correctly portrays that intent. We cannot force voters to check that the paper ballot accurately reﬂects their preferences.”
Johnson County’s ExpressVote machines do not use hand-marked paper ballots. Instead, they generate computer-marked “summary cards” containing visually unverifiable bar codes. These bar codes, which can only be read by computer, are the only portion of the summary card counted as your vote.
Metsker stressed that the summary cards, which he calls “paper ballots,” also include human-readable text, which voters are supposed to be told to review to verify that the text accurately reflects their intended selections:
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction