Partisan politics and closed-source technology collude to leave American democracy in questionable hands. Many election reform activists are voicing deep concerns about electronic voting machines being used in the next presidential election.
Election reform activists (here, here) ask whether the political leanings of the companies developing the new electronic voting machines will have anything to do with the results of the election. The partisan opinions of the companies wouldn’t make election reform activists so suspicious if the machines themselves haven’t already been proven susceptible to hacking.
Diebold, a company now so notorious it has taken the “Diebold” name off its voting machines, has a tawdry record that includes using the same low-tech key for every voting machine case, and scrubbing information about the CEO’s fundraising for George W. Bush from Diebold’s Wikipedia article. More fundamentally, their machines typically create no paper receipts, providing no way to audit the integrity of election results.
Electronic voting machines are now used in roughly 40 percent of U.S. counties. The bottom line seems to be that in a country where buying a cup of coffee merits a paper receipt, the machines being developed by leading companies (e.g. Diebold and others) are simply not meeting the standards of transparency and accountability necessary for a healthy democracy. Corruption thrives where transparency and accountability cannot reach — a lesson often learned the hard way.
NY Times: Influx of Voters Expected to Test New Technology
Mother Jones: Diebold’s Political Machine
Technical breakdown from Wired: Building a Better Voting Machine
Some creepy election-theft fiction: Cassandra, Chanting (review).
— Lacy Clark