A number of states provide for a manual recount of a small sample of the ballots cast as a way to detect voting system errors. In California, although there is a requirement for a one percent manual recount, there are no rules on how this should be carried out. If not done carefully, however, the recount will not accomplish the task assigned to it. In particular, it may fail to detect election fraud committed by hackers inside or outside of the elections department.
Huge amorphous stories tend to wend their way into the mainstream press slowly, if at all. This one is no exception. The core of the story is straightforward: new computerized voting machines are vulnerable to tampering. The details and the implications become much more murky and complex: Who owns the companies that manufacture the voting machines? What are the technical issues involved? What does the law say? How can ordinary citizens best assert their rights to have their votes counted fairly and accurately?