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Fri, Sep 16 2005

Voting Machines? Just Say No

I continue to see things that concern me when it comes to electronic voting. Unfortunately, the Help American Vote Act has only served to rush us into a system of technology that is not ready, not reliable and not secure. The Brad Blog spoke yesterday of people ignoring security flaws, both within Diebold's ranks and government offices. Many communities are scrambling to meet HAVA's unrealistic deadlines, which were mandated on a federal level, but are nearly impossible to meet on the local level. And since all voting actually occurs on a local level it makes federal mandates fairly useless in this case.

The creation of HAVA has now spawned its own form of grant churning machine. A whole center is being created to study electronic voting A Center for Correct, Usable, Reliable, Auditable, and Transparent Elections (ACURATE) is being headed by Professor Avi Rubin. I'm not against grants and research, but just where do you think all that funding money at the National Science Foundation comes from? It comes from your tax dollars. (And it isn't strictly independent money when you think about it. The foundation's director is chosen by the President of the United States.)

HAVA deadlines call for electronic voting machines at polling places very soon, and ACURATE is just beginning their research. HAVA was touted as something to make voting available to Americans with disabilities and language barriers, but we already have procedures in place to help with those things. We've been using them for a long time. They may not be foolproff but they shouldn't be replaced with something electronic just for the sake of technology. And if that technology is faulty we shouldn't use it. We're not talking about a mistake in a parking ticket here. Voting is part of the basis of our country's governmental structure.

What's the rush with HAVA deadlines, especially now that we know that there are major issues with electronic voting machines? I'm always suspicious when things related to technology are ramrodded through the legislative process by people who are usually not very technical at all. And this technology affects every American voter. Congress spends taxpayer dollars on research all the time. Yet no one thought to do research on all this before passing HAVA?

This whole rush job makes things look really bad for our legislators. It stirs up thoughts of snot-slick lobbyists and special interests. If we could follow the money we'd find out that someone is making big bucks out of all this mess. And I guarantee you it isn't taxpaying voters.

I've worked as an election clerk and I've helped people vote. I'm going to help you vote too, right now, by advising you not to use electronic voting machines. Maybe I'll endorse them someday, but not this year. Probably not next year either.

posted at: 11:09 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

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