Ireland Going Through The Electronic Voting Debate As Well

from the talking-at-cross-purposes dept

It’s not just in the US where the debate is raging about electronic voting machines. Here’s an article describing the debate on electronic voting machines in Ireland. The most interesting thing about this debate is that it appears the people pushing for electronic voting don’t even bother to listen to the actual complaints of those against it. Most people who are protesting electronic voting aren’t Luddites (or as this article calls them “traditionalists”). They’re actually quite tech-savvy. Savvy enough to know that the current implementation of these electronic voting machines is dreadful. They’re not saying they don’t want electronic voting – but they just want to make sure it’s been done right. Yet, those pushing to just use the current machines paint them as holding back technology. There’s a particularly scary quote (and an equally excellent response) that demonstrates this. One of the supporters of the machines says: “Every day, we use credit cards, internet banking, wire transfers, online tax-filing and much, much more without understanding in any detail how these systems work.” This totally misses the point. It’s not that people are worried about the details of how these things work – they just want verify that they actually do what they’re supposed to do. The great response that makes this point perfectly: “Imagine if your bank said: ‘We are no longer going to give you receipts for any transaction or to issue account statements; you won’t be able to check how much money you have, but trust us, we’ll tell you the correct amount’. Would you continue to do business with such a bank?” Exactly.

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Comments on “Ireland Going Through The Electronic Voting Debate As Well”

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Beck says:

Nothing Will Change

I am doing some computer work for my state and a couple of weeks ago I found myself in a meeting at the Secretary of State’s office, with the people in charge of implementing electronic voting statewide (a situation that Mike would probably like to be in). When the meeting was over I decided to bring up the topic of voter confidence, and a paper audit trail. They just completely brushed it off, asking me why I wouldn’t trust electronic voting machines since I trust ATM machines for my banking, etc. They said that the voting machine is just another electronic device. I pointed out that ATM machines give receipts, but the fact is they just don’t want to hear about it. They completely ignored every reasonable argument. Either they don’t “get it”, or they are very good at acting like they don’t get it. It wouldn’t surprise me if the DRE machine vendors handed out talking point memos to the project managers that explain how to answer every objection to the machines.

One reason these people aren’t going to do anything about it is because their job is to implement the machines, period. Doing anything else would require challenging their boss, and who wants to challenge or embarrass the boss, especially when the boss is an elected official who wants to be the governor some day? It’s a quick way to lose your job and your place on the Secretary’s coattails to the Governor’s office.

Secondly, they are not in a position to make any changes anyway. No single person can do that. The state convened a commission to establish a plan to implement electronic voting. They held meetings and hearings, spent hours preparing drafts of the plan, and now that the plan is complete it must be followed. And the plan does not call for a voter-verified audit trail.

The only way it will change is if something bad happens!!

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