It’s almost certain that electronic voting (as opposed to internet voting) is the wave of the near-future. But is it ready for primetime? John Fund takes a look:
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights has generally supported electronic voting because the voters who are most likely to be helped by DREs are (a) the disabled (they can vote without assistance); (b) the less educated (they’re comforted by the machines’ similarity to the ATM); (c) the elderly (you can increase the type size) and (d) citizens with limited English skills (the machines are multilingual).
Indeed, whatever problems DREs have must be compared to other existing systems. In last year’s California recall election, punch-card systems didn’t register a valid vote on 6.3% of all ballots cast. For optical scan systems, the under-vote rate was 2.7% and for DREs it was only 1.5%. As for the theories that DREs could be programmed to change an election outcome, [former DNC Chariman Joe] Andrew dismissed them by saying, “the liberal Internet activists are bonkers.” John Lott, an American Enterprise Institute economist who has studied election systems, adds that some of the obsession about DREs, “sounds a lot like an effort to anger some people into voting while providing the basis for lots of election litigation if the results are close.”
There’s more, and I suggest you read the whole thing.
Internet voting shakes me to the bones like only a self-aware Windows user can be shaken. I know what the security risks are, and I know that they won’t be fixed in time for this election, the Naught-Eight election, or maybe ever.
DREs are another story. I’ll feel better once they provide a printed copy of my ballot, but that looks unlikely (except in Nevada, a state which knows how to make people feel comfortable with electronic gaming — er, voting) before November 2. In the meantime, if, as Fund says, the things are generally more reliable than punchcard ballots, then we’re left with two questions:
1) What are we waiting for?
2) What the hell are we waiting for?
The perfect is the enemy of the good. If we can’t get to “better” before we get to “perfect,” then we’ll never get to better, much less to perfect.
Bring on the machines.