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.

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

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Tatheg (profile) says:


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.

Fernando R says:

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?

Matt says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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….

Fernando R says:

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.

Truthbringer says:

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.

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