How Come There Aren't More Technologists On The Board Setting Voting Tech Standards?

from the questions,-questions,-questions dept

Ed Felten raises a rather important question concerning the lack of knowledgeable computer scientists or other voting technology experts on the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Board of Advisors. As Felten notes, the EAC is in charge of setting voting technology standards, and four slots (out of 39) on the board are specifically allocated for "members representing professionals in the field of science and technology." Already, only 4 out of 39 seats seems rather low, considering how important the technology choices are -- but it's even worse when the people filling those slots aren't actually technologists. Yes, Felten points out that three of the four slots are held by folks who are:
accomplished people who have something to offer on the board. But as far as I can tell they are not "professionals in the field of science and technology," so their appropriate positions on the board would be somewhere in the other thirty-five seats.
So, basically, as it stands, the group in charge of setting voting tech standards appears to have only one technologist on board, and that person, Barbara Simons, was only recently appointed.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Aug 5th, 2008 @ 2:31am

    Farce

    If the people in charge of voting can't even adhere to their own regulations governing how people may be elected to the board, then the whole thing is a farce.

    I suggest we inform them that there are 39 seats left on the next 'B ark' spaceflight, and that they might nab them if they are quick.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    MadJo (profile), Aug 5th, 2008 @ 2:50am

    Re: Farce

    Just make sure that the telephone sanitizers stay here... I don't want to be wiped out by a weird disease transmitted through dirty telephone handsets.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Steve, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 3:25am

    NIST

    The National Institute of Statistics and Technology provide the tech support to the EAC. There is also a technology advisory group that uses the NIST guidelines to provide industry guidance to the EAC.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Tatheg, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 7:05am

    Re: NIST

    You're serious? national institute of STATISTICS and technology. Yeah, I'm sure that they can help at least with 68.5% of the questions .... No, the board states that 4 seats are required to be filled with computer scientists or voting technology experts, these members are not present on the board. Therefor the board is not following its own rules ... Statistics, just a polite word for lie.

     

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  5.  
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    Overcast, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 7:21am

    Because it's all about politics - not about sense, science, or technology.

    It's the same reason Lawyers are running the country, if it was a system that made sense - it would be a mix of every type of affected party running a government: Military, Law, Science, Business, Common Workers, Media, etc.

     

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  6.  
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    Fernando R, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 8:05am

    Brazil has 180 Million people and more than 130 million voters. Voting is mandatory here. We have a fully electronic, fully automated, foolproof voting system. Cheap, efficient, reliable. There is a dedicated cryptographed data network and hard copies of the votes of every electronic ballot, just in case. More than 95% of the votes are counted within 2 hours of the end of the election AND we DON'T have pregnant chads!

    Why don't US authorities ask for some help from us?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 8:38am

    Re:

    I love those types of systems that can't be tampered with.
    One question though, what happens when you plug it in?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 8:39am

    Re: Farce

    Sounds like what Europeans did a few hundred years ago ;)

     

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  9.  
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    Matt, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 9:21am

    I dont understand the problem

    I really do not see why we even need 39 people to deal with electronic voting.. the program itself I could have wrote in my High School Programming Class, and it would have been 100% accurate. Granted the real thing needs a decent look at security, but as Fernando points out how Brazil does it, just include a "Print" button. This really doesn't seem like its that hard of a problem. A couple of Kids from MIT could knock this thing thing out in a week. As far as tamper proofing the machines, simple, do not link the machines directly to the internet. Create a breakpoint. This leaves only physical tampering with the machines, in that case, arrest anyone that comes to vote wearing a tool belt.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 9:35am

    Re: I dont understand the problem

    Maybe you should hold off on giving your opinion until you graduate?

    So, if we don't link them to the intertubes, how do you suggest we connect all these awesome machines to each other. Roll our private cable to every little voting shack in rural America? Or do you suggest they be kept 100%offline in any sense and then the results gets carrier pigeon'ed to the safehouse of the people MOST LIKELY TO TAMPER WITH THE DAMN THING ANYWAY....

     

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  11.  
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    Fernando R, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: I dont understand the problem

    To clarify: Brazilian electronic ballots are NOT connected to the Internet. They use floppy discs! Yes, low tech floppies. After the ballots are closed these floppies are physically carried to transmission centers and uploaded to the processing data center, in Brasilia (the capital), where the votes are added.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Wolfy, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 11:05am

    This system is ideal for those who wish to rig elections. The commissioners DON'T want anyone on the commission who knows anything about technology... they might say something to the press and blow a perfectly good gig.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Aug 6th, 2008 @ 3:16am

    Re:

    You're right, otherwise they would have 4 slots out of 39 for NON-technologists.

    The only technological solution to voting will be produced by the people, not corporations nor the state that represents them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Truthbringer, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 5:31am

    The author seems puzzled?

    I would have to guess he is new at covering Washington? There are two kinds of commitees formed by the US Government, the kind that are supposed to get something done (generally some legislation or regulation that commercial industry supports) and there are those that are NOT supposed to get anything done (usually dealing with legislation or regulation that commercial industry doesnt care about).




    Bottom line here is, the special interests of commercial business dont care about this issue, so niether does washington.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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