Definitely unreasonable

I know, I know. You receive about five e-mails a month telling you how urgent it is that you read this or that article full of unbacked theories that will eventually be debunked on This, however, is not one of those issues. The following video is a little bit long and the narrator really needs to think more highly of his audience, but still, it's worth a watch. (Note: the issues I'm talking about in this post are pretty old, and will probably be boring for a lot of people. Still, it strikes me as being relevant, given the impending election season.)

You may try and nitpick pieces of the methodology ("Removing a few screws" = removing 20 of them). But I think the overall point is scary - it's very easy to break into these machines and - given some level of technological savvy - steal an election.

There are, of course, a lot of questions about how representative that video was. If it was the only thing that I'd seen, I might not be persuaded about it. For a full, convincing discussion of the potential theft of an election, see this article from arstechnica. Aside from answering a lot of the logistical questions, it breaks the problem down as follows:

a) The use of electronic voting machines presents a vastly larger number of vulnerabilities for "bad apples" to attack.
b) Many of these attacks only require one bad apple, as opposed to a coordinated army of them

This all goes to show that electronic voting machines in their current form are a suboptimal voting solution. That's the part that I think we should be worried about. What I think we should be angry about is that it seems like the companies that are putting these machines together are almost (note: 'are almost' != 'are') actively courting a voting disaster.

For instance, leaked internal memos that were published by Swarthmore students suggest that Diebold was actively skirting state certification procedures by patching the software after the machines were certified. Moreover, when the state of Maryland tried to protect itself by requesting paper printouts, Diebold apparently circulated a memo saying, "As a business, I hope we're smart enough to charge them up the wazoo [for this feature]".

In regards to the leaked memos that were published, Diebold sued the students that posted them. To me, this seems like a clearcut case in which corporate interests are in direct conflict with the public good. Diebold's primary source of profit is entirely dependent on the public believing that it is providing a quality solution. In lieu of actually providing a secure voting solution, it has decided that the cheaper and more efficient strategy is to simply dupe us, regardless of the effect that this could have on the entire political ecosystem. In some cases, I'm for the privatization of government functions, but this is just preposterous.

Anyway. This all makes me very upset. If you're worried about trails, go with an absentee ballot.



Copyright 2006| Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly modified and converted to Blogger Beta by Blogcrowds.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.