IT&T News is a great publication that features many excellent articles by a variety of free-market policy experts. But I found this article on e-voting, by PRI’s Vince Vasquez, rather disappointing:
The e-voting experience has been a resounding success that has generated relatively few complaints from the electorate. To be sure, there were some legitimate problems with DRE machines on November 7, but many have been found to be man-made, such as innocent user error, inept poll workers, or ineffective planning by local election authorities. Unfortunately, these human-based fumbles have opened the doors for open-source zealots, wide-eyed activists, and crafty politicians who want to scrap DREs for the 2008 elections.
I’m not a politician, and I actually don’t think that open source would solve what’s wrong with e-voting, so by process of elimination, I must be a “wide-eyed activist.” I bet Ed Felten and Avi Rubin–both widely respected computer scientists–would be surprised to learn that they, too, are “wide-eyed activists.”
After busting out that sort of inflammatory rhetoric, you would think that Mr. Vasquez would have some pretty compelling refutations of us wide-eyed activists. But he doesn’t even mention–much less address–any of the actual arguments that e-voting critics make against computerize voting. No mention of the fact that DREs are less transparent, harder to audit, or more susceptible to wide-scale (rather than local) fraud than paper ballots. No mention of the current debacle in Florida, the various reports of problems with e-voting machines, or the fact that computer security researchers have actually demonstrated that some e-voting machines are vulnerable to vote-stealing viruses.
Nope, all we get is vague arguments about how “digital red tape and risky industry requirements jeopardizes the value of these innovative machines.” (Why are they innovative? Because there are computers in them!) And overheated rhetoric about “feeding the country’s voting system to ideological lions.” There might be some good arguments for using DREs, but Mr. Vasquez doesn’t seem to have any.