I am a technophile and gadget geek of the highest order. If it is related to computers or electronics, I own it, I want it, or I’m pushing it. To me, the advances and ease made in life due to technology are amazing. I enjoy working in the IT field. If my hands are on servers and networks and PDA, etc, I am happy.
So why don’t I like the idea of electronic voting? As a matter of fact, why do I think that is a horrible idea that scares me?
Maybe I should ask myself why I still write my most important information down with pen and paper before I put it into my PocketPC?
The truth is that from working in MIS, I know all too well how easy it is to lose files if there aren’t backups. I’ve spent many a long night trying to clean up a network after a really bad virus attack.
More importantly, I know about the steps I’ve had to take to make sure there isn’t network intrusions.
There was a time when I was younger when I used to “hang” with a bunch of hackers online. It was then that I learned that any program, any network, anything that has a network connection can be compromised. The skills I learned from then I later used in my last job to “hack” into workstations and servers where the admin as well as end-user passwords were lost and still not lose data. It was so easy for me and quite useful.
This is one exact reason why the idea of Electronic voting is a bad one.
Sure, we had the problems in the last election with the hanging chads, et cetera. This did show that there was a problem with the method used to vote, but not with the process itself. This does not mean that we need to turn to computers for this issue but to redesign the ballot forms themselves. Yes, computers are faster and more accurate in general, however computers are subject to virii and bad programming. Take a look at what happened recently to some ATMS in the country this past August. Computers aren’t the fail-safe that some people like to think they are.
Voting is a very important process- too important to take out the human element. The ballots themselves also serve a dual purpose. Yes, it’s a lot of paper. Yes it’s bulky- but it is also a concrete record of what happened that one can hold in their hand. You can hold a hard drive in your hand but if you happened to get to close to a magnet, or drop the hard drive, or a virus gets in, all of that data is gone.
Finally, there is something very visceral about filling out a ballot by hand that is satisfying. Voting should carry a little bit of ceremony, reverence and tradition with it as that is a very important action. Everyday, most of us use keyboards or punch numbers into ATM machines. I know that when I vote, I want to make sure that there is a solid, tangible, record to reflect what my wishes are- and this is coming from a self professed geek.