My Voting Machine Neanderthal Article

by on June 5, 2006 · 14 comments

In a new Brainwash column, I make the case against computerized voting machines:

Did George Bush steal the 2004 election?

Some left-wing activists are convinced he did. They point out that initial exit poll results in swing states predicted a Kerry victory. And they note that Walden O’Dell, the head of voting machine manufacturer Diebold, wrote in a 2003 fundraising letter that he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.”

Personally, I don’t find their evidence very compelling. Exit polls can be wrong for a variety of reasons, and the O’Dell quote only proves that he was a partisan Republican, not that he did anything illegal.

What’s disturbing, however, is that our nation’s headlong rush to adopt computerized voting machines has given such conspiracy theories a certain air of plausibility. There’s little evidence of foul play in this case, but there are good reasons to be concerned. Last month, a consumer group released a report warning of serious security problems with Diebold voting machines. The report shows that it’s possible to install malicious software in minutes that could surreptitiously miscount votes.

I point to source code disclosure and paper voting records as stopgap measures to minimize these dangers, but conclude that ultimately, computerized voting may just be a bad idea. At the very least, we should hold off on installing additional computerized voting machines until we’ve had more time to study the existing ones and better understand their flaws.

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