Monday, July 05, 2004

Electronic Voting

This article on CNN talks about a woman who's made it her personal crusade to point out some of the flaws with proposed electronic voting systems. As Dick Cheney can tell you, conflicts of interest are nothing new in the political arena, but people are deservedly more sensitive about the mechanics of voting.

Paper balloting systems, for all their flaws, chads, and miscounts, have one major advantage, which is that their very inefficiency makes it difficult to swing an election without being caught. Doing so requires a significant amount of manpower, which makes it pretty likely that someone will blab.

The scary thing about electronic voting systems is that the voting process is no longer supervised by a large number of people. The code that collects and counts the votes is seen only by a small number of people (potentially one).

The alternative, which hasn't caught on with government here, is to open the code to public review, and have independent auditors check that that is actually the code the voting machines are running. A number of projects have been started to write the code for these voting machines; a quick search on Sourceforge turned up votehelp and two or three other projects specifically targetted at elections. The Open Voting Consortium looks like the largest and best-organized effort so far, though.

This topic is probably worth a letter to my local representative, if I can figure out who that is...

I found a district map, and it appears that my representative has changed from Rebecca Cohn to Sally Leiber, despite the fact that I have only moved about a mile. The obviously-gerrymandered district map is educational.

I have, however, kept my senator, who is John Vasconcellos.

I think the only thing I've heard of any of these people is that I vaguely remember seeing their names on people's lawns around election time... Is the work of our state senate and assembly really that forgettable? Or do they just not want us to know what it is that they've been doing?


Anonymous said...

Good luck figuring that one out Guy. God Speed!

Guy said...

You can find out who your senator or assemblyman here.