Technically Speaking/Political Commentary
After the general election in 2000, many states and counties rushed to upgrade their voting process with electronic voting machines. The decision was met with wide approval from gadget hungry voters. After all, punch card and oval shading ballots were much too antiquated for a voting public who was now walking around with Blackberry and Nokia phones. Voters assumed elections would be just as easy as creating a playlist of their favorite songs on their iPod.
Unfortunately, we are facing the repercussions of that decision as we head into the 2020 election season.
First, and foremost, it was rather foolish to believe electronic voting machines could fix a problem in which it had played a contributing role. While almost everyone remembers the 2000 election for making “hanging chad” a popular buzzword, many to this day don’t know that it was electronic voting machines in Volusia County that created the initial confusion when it was reported that Democratic presidential candidate had received a negative 16,000 votes. Then there was the issue of the mysterious second USB drive that was never explained.
Secondly, voters were naïve to believe such decisions would be left up to technology professionals, and not ego-driven power-hungry bureaucrats, whose only computer experience was playing Solitaire. State legislators and county commissioners also have a hand in determining which voting machine vendor and equipment can be used in elections. Unfortunately, many elected officials do not seek adequate counsel and simply rubberstamp decisions made by the state election secretary and county election supervisor.
While it would be prudent to think the selection process is comprised of a lot of technical requirements and meeting an extensive set of benchmarks, several investigative reports show that decisions are most often determined by vendors lavishing election officials with campaign contributions and lucrative advisory board positions.
Now, that we know Russia meddled in the 2016 election, our elected officials are once again being asked to upgrade our election process, and once again our elected officials are allowing the same voting machine vendors to deceive them. Vendors, ES&S and Dominion, are selling an up-graded version of the same technology. The only difference is, this time they’ve added an option for voters to print their ballots.
On the surface this sounds like a wonderful compromise. However, it leaves voters in the same predicament.
Unhackable hand-marked paper ballots is the one option available that best ensures the voter’s intention is exemplified.
Let me know what you think. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always stay tuned to the Westside Gazette for more information about your vote.