September 22, 2004

How Will You Cast Your Vote?

In just under six weeks, citizens across this great land will trudge into a voting booth and cast their votes on either antiquated old technology or questionable new technology. While both forms have their own well-noted problems, a new Web site throws into sharp relief the profound problems with electronic voting.

The digital-rights nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation has just launched a comprehensive e-voting information center. Among the most interesting and useful tidbits on the page are a list of which local governments currently use which machines, and a companion list of the many known problems encountered with each type of machine.

Just one example is Alameda County, California, home to the illustrious Presidential Reporting Project. Alameda County uses the Diebold AccuVote-TS machine, which features a nice laundry list of recent problems. Last March, the AccuVote-TS prevented 55 percent of San Diego County's precincts from opening on time because of malfunctioning batteries. The same problem was reported in Alameda County, but pragmatic elections officials here kept backup paper ballots on hand.

The list continues outside of California as well. Georgia and Maryland have both introduced the AccuVote-TS statewide, coming hand in glove with reports of incomplete ballots and miscounted votes. Despite the promise of electronic voting, the seemingly bottomless rabbit-hole of incompetence with which the technology has been developed and implemented leaves one wishing for the simplicity of a hanging chad.

Obviously, paper ballots have their own pitfalls, but Ohio's elections officials decided late last year that security problems with e-voting forced the state to stick with punch-cards for the presidential election.

Say what you will about these lesser-evil options, at least the Pentagon can't block access to the polling places, just overseas absentee ballots.

Posted by Matt Wheeland at 09:08 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink