E-Voting Undermines Public Confidence In Elections Even Without Evidence of Wrongdoing

from the conflict-of-interest dept

Are Republican operatives scheming to steal the election in Maryland this fall? Threat Level is reporting that the contract for transporting e-voting machines in the state has been contracted to a company whose president was the head of the state Republican party until 2006. I think the answer is almost certainly "no": while this certainly looks like a conflict of interest, I suspect it's no more than an honest oversight that will be quickly corrected. Still, it's troubling that we even have to worry about who transports voting machines. With ordinary paper ballots, it doesn't matter who transports them because there's nothing a moving company can do to undermine the election. But with e-voting machines, a moving company really could install malicious software that would undermine the election. And once an e-voting machines has been tampered with, there's no reliable mechanism for detecting the problem. Again, there's no evidence anything untoward has occurred in Maryland. But no matter who transports those e-voting machines, the public is being asked to take it on faith that they won't be tampered with. In a well-designed voting system, voters shouldn't have to take anyone's actions on faith. The entire process should be simple and transparent, so that anyone can observe it and verify that it was carried out correctly. The complexity and opacity of e-voting machines makes effective public scrutiny impossible, and so it's a bad idea even in the absence of specific evidence of wrongdoing.
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Filed Under: e-voting, maryland


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  1. identicon
    Celes, 22 Jan 2008 @ 4:21pm

    Re: Re: #6

    "This is one of those situations where a rush to use technology merely because it was available, or trendy, or well-marketed (translation: "vendor lied convincingly"), or shiny, has resulted in negative consequences."

    In this state, I'd put my money on shiny. Both the local and state governments in MD tend to spend money on "shiny new" whatevers just so that if the whole plan works, they can say they had it early or first. They continue to do it regardless of the fact that it rarely does work, and sadly we the voters don't pay enough attention to notice, and usually the same folks who are going for the shiny get elected to another office or for another term so that they can do it again.

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