Perhaps it’s because the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee Americans the right to vote. Perhaps it’s because election officials believe (or hope) that the public has forgotten what democracy means or what fair elections are all about. Perhaps both parties opportunistically seek an advantage through fraud. Perhaps people are simply stupid. Nevertheless, it remains an almost inconceivable screw-up: in many states, including critical swing states, government officials have not guaranteed that votes can be counted, either, in some cases, counted accurately or, in others, counted at all. The mechanics of U.S. voting systems, by international standards, languish at the level of a dismal third world failure.
Many–maybe most–of our current problems with election auditing can be traced to the proliferation of electronic voting machines. Paperless machines that leave no auditable evidence of who won, who lost, or who stole an election. Machines with flimsy paper trails that can be tinkered with and/or that are too unreliable when needed. Internet voting, which by its nature is 100% insecure. Adding insult to injury, the corporations that sell these electronic gadgets claim, and courts have agreed, that election software is proprietary: the public interest in ensuring a fair election takes second place to corporate profits. Worse still, we have an extremely troubling history of persons with a direct interest in election outcomes owning a piece of the companies that count the vote. See, for example, former Sen. Chuck Hegel’s victory in 1996 or, notably, the Romney connection to the privately held company Hart Intercivic whose machines are widely used, including in Ohio.
On another level, given America’s obsession with foreign threats, how quaintly and almost charmingly parochial it is that no U.S. government official has ever wondered aloud about the national security implications of potential electronic vote fraud. But to be realistic, it’s not as if only Americans might ever have an interest in stealing American elections. Our failure on that score is a bright marker for just how far we’ve gone to avoid the subject of authentic democracy!
Most centrist policy experts, aided by the mainstream media, disparage concerns about electronic voting. After all, how bad could it get? Dr. Barbara Simons is the co-author, with Dr. Douglas W. Jones, of Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count? (Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford, 2012). A retired researcher at IBM, Dr. Simons is also a former president of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the nation’s oldest and largest educational and scientific society for computing professionals. She has a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley. Recently, I spoke with Dr. Simons. A podcast of our conversation is available on the website Electric Politics.
Full Article: The Threat of a Stolen Election – In These Times.