At the Open Source Election Technology Foundation (OSET), a 10-year old Silicon Valley based nonprofit election technology research institute, we are encouraged by valuable dialog underway about how to protect America’s aging and vulnerable voting machinery and evolve our systems with technology for ease and confidence. Setting aside some misunderstanding about the challenges elections officials face in administering a nationwide patchwork quilt of election technology, there is a critical mass on the left and the right discussing how to protect our “critical democracy infrastructure.” Part of the problem is that by design, our nation’s voting infrastructure is a balkanized system comprised of a small number of vendors’ machinery, combined with a variety of ways of casting and counting ballots. While a large-scale national attack is highly unlikely, such would be unnecessary to derail a general election. In fact, it only requires a targeted attack of a few machines in a key county of a swing State.
So, does that mean we’re still a sitting duck for a possible derailed election? Are we heading toward an election debacle bigger than the “Florida Chad Fest” of 2000? At the very least, remember that today unlike 2000, social media can help a lie circle the globe before the truth can find the keyboard.
While candidates on the left and the right use the new four-letter word “rigged” and call for election observers, we need to understand that elections officials work hard to make sure the charges of people voting multiple times and other illegal activity doesn’t occur. There are straightforward, low-tech things we can do today to improve the integrity of our elections.