It's the Accuracy Stupid

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Here’s one from the other day. It seems Diebold has hired former Democratic National Committee chairman Joe Andrew to promote their touchscreen voting machines across the country. Diebold sees California as a crucial market:

His first stop: California, the nation’s largest market for voting machines and the place where Diebold’s fortunes as the largest supplier of electronic-voting machines in the nation could be made or broken.

“Even if you have tremendous success every place else,” said Andrew, “if you can’t sell technology in California, you’re in trouble.”

The article continues to take a look at the sales pitch for California (read: Democratic) voters:

Andrew said computer scientists and e-voting activists are standing in the way of a promising technology, an ATM-like voting computer with such a low error rate that more votes count. And that, said Andrew, should work to the benefit of Democrats.

and:

It is Andrew’s message — that paperless electronic voting is good for Democrats — and his connections in Democratic circles.

and:

In California at least, Andrew sees civil-rights leaders abdicating from a worthy cause. “The great irony is, it’s the progressives — my side of the aisle — who are against electronic voting but have the most to benefit from it.”

Oakland Tribune: Diebold hires top Dem for PR blitz

I feel all sick inside. This is absolutely the wrong way to go about promoting this technology. I hope that most Democrats — heck, I hope most everybody — will reject this argument. It is reprehensible to support a voting technology just because you perceive that it will benefit your party.

The non-partisan benefits of new technology are great. Quoting again from the above article:

…electronic voting has plenty going for it, such larger type for elderly voters, ballot displays in multiple languages and an audio ballot for visually impaired voters.

What is most important to elections is accuracy, security and transparency.

I for one will not trust electronic voting systems unless they use open source code for full transparency which allows independent programmers to test and verify they are secure and accurate. Insuring that results are verifiable with a paper trail — perhaps similar to the system commentor Joshua illustrated in a previous post — can’t possibly hurt.

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