E-Voting Critics as Luddites

by on March 29, 2007 · 4 comments

Another person who testified about HR 811 on Friday was disability access advocate Harold Snider. He makes some good points about how DREs improve the accessibility of elections to disabled voters, and raises concerns that the requirement for a paper trail will delay the arrival of fully accessible voting. But then he veers off into hyperbole:

I am very proud of the fact that I was able to complete a Doctorate at Oxford University in 1974, where I studied 19th Century British History. I learned that in early 19th –Century England, a group of people called Luddites attempted to destroy early industrial production machinery because they perceived it as a threat, and had no confidence in it. I believe that the same is true with those who favor H.R. 811. In the 21st Century there are still people who have no faith in modern technology and in its ability to deliver a secure electronic voting process.

This argument is extremely silly, and the supporters of DREs are only shooting themselves in the foot when they make it. The most vocal critics of DREs are computer geeks. Jon Stokes, for example, writes in-depth reviews of new computer chips for Ars Technica. The idea that computer science professors, free software enthusiasts, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are luddites doesn’t pass the straight face test.

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