Electronic voting could work

There have been a rash of email scams related to the election. Besides the usual nonsense viral emails that describe the candidate of your choice as the boogeyman, complete with “absolute proof” that they eat babies and are BFFs with Osama bin Laden, there are some more dangerous ones floating around. One tries to tell people that they will be unable to vote if their home is in foreclosure, which is not true and would, of course, be unconstitutional if it were.

On the subject of voting and technology, I am always surprised and dismayed when technologists and IT people, who otherwise try to find a digital solution to virtually anything including buying soda from a machine, start talking about how e-voting can’t work and we should continue to use paper ballots. I’ve seen techies describe in print how e-voting “threatens democracy” and even referring to an “electoral apocalypse”. C’mon people, we can make a machine re-create the Big Bang, but we can’t create a serviceable electronic voting machine? I don’t believe it.

There have been some well-known flaws in US e-voting systems, although in other countries it has worked well–most notably, in Switzerland. The benefits to e-voting would be enormous, if it’s done right: Cost savings, reduction of paperwork, greater accuracy, and faster results. Short-term, we can create a paper trail to correspond to the e-voting to provide a failsafe.

There is, of course, an argument to be made about its security, as there is with any type of technology. But in the big picture, e-voting is a given. It just makes sense to try to make it work–and in fact, paper ballots have been tampered with as well for as long as people have been voting. Fraud would be nothing new in an electronic ballot.

For the record, the GAO did recently issue findings of an audit of the Election Assistance Commission. According to an article in Ars Technica, the certification process for voting machine manufacturers is incredibly vague and has caused significant delays–and this is what the main problem is, not the technology itself. It’s the bureaucracy behind it that should be in place to certify and regulate it.

Written by Dan Blacharski

The corporate world unceremoniously booted Dan Blacharski out of his cubicle over 15 years ago, and he’s never looked back. Since that time, he has been a full-time professional freelance writer, public relations consultant and analyst, and has published six books and thousands of articles. He divides his time between South Bend, Indiana and Bangkok, and married the renowned Thai writer Charoenkwan Prakthong in 2005. He and his wife enjoy traveling the world, and spending time with their Boston Terrier, Pladook.

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