A Hurt Democracy Is Worse Than A Hurt Back
For some reason, I woke up with some major back pain at 3:41 this AM, so I got up in the hopes that sitting might help. It's not working yet, but I've got some Vitamin I (ibuprofen) in me and hopefully that will kick in sometime. Meanwhile, I certainly don't feel like reviewing test questions, so I might as well blog.
And what do I find in the NYTimes, but this gem from the ever shrill* Krugman
Georgia - where Republicans scored spectacular upset victories in the 2002 midterm elections - relies exclusively on Diebold machines. To be clear, though there were many anomalies in that 2002 vote, there is no evidence that the machines miscounted. But there is also no evidence that the machines counted correctly. You see, Diebold machines leave no paper trail.
Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey, who has introduced a bill requiring that digital voting machines leave a paper trail and that their software be available for public inspection, is occasionally told that systems lacking these safeguards haven't caused problems. "How do you know?" he asks.
Yeah, how do we know? As I've discussed before, it's unconscionable that there's no paper trail with these voting machines to backup our precious franchise. Krugman does an excellent job here, particularly tying this issue to the recent theft of Democratic files from a server.
The scariest point he makes is that the mainstream press is treating the whole thing as a technology story, not as something political. I'd wager that most people upon reading a headline about "computer voting" will turn the page to read Mallard Fillmore and miss just how important this story really is.
Without printed ballots, how do we know there are no problems with these machines? It is extremely worrisome that there is resistance on the part of Diebold to open up its code to public scrutiny. One of the maxims in the cryptography world is "don't trust a secret encryption algorithm." It's simple: you want to make sure your code is hackproof, you release it into the wild so the hackers, and security professionals, and everybody can take their best shot at breaking it.
Further, democracy relies on transparency. When a company tells us we don't have the right to inspect that which forms the basis of our voting franchise, you should be troubled to the core. This has the potential to mortally wound our democracy. I'm glad the word is starting to get out, but is it too little, too late?
* Apologies to Atrios.