Voting Technology As Magic (Or Not)

from the good-works dept

Tim writes “According to an article in the Berkeley Daily Planet, the Open Voting Consortium has developed an open source touchscreen voting system that runs on standard PC hardware, is secure, fast and voter verifiable, and that produces a paper audit trail. They plan (pdf file) on demonstrating it Thursday (April Fool’s day may not be the most felicitous choice of dates) at the Santa Clara County government office building in San Jose. I don’t know whether the system does everything they claim it can, however, unlike proprietary systems like Diebold’s voting machines, anyone will be free to examine the inner workings of their system to see for themselves how it works, and will be free critique it or improve upon it themselves. The whole voting machine issue reminds me of Arthur C. Clarke’s famous quote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The voting machine vendors want people to think that their technology is magic — you touch the screen and your vote is instantly recorded and counted at the central office and sent to the TV networks so they can declare a winner as soon as the polls close. Computer professionals and academics, who have been at the forefront of the opposition to the adoption of audit-less blackbox voting technology, work with technology every day and know that it is as subject to Murphy’s Law as any other human endeavour. Making sure our votes get accurately counted is at the foundation of democracy. I’m glad that more people are taking it seriously, and that people are volunteering their time and energy to help our country get it right. This is patriotism of the finest kind.”

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