Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Boring Importance of Electoral Administration

The US Presidential elections of 2004 and 2000 were both surrounded in controversy over alleged voting irregularities.

The high number of spoiled ballots in the elections to the Scottish Parliament and local councils in 2007 illustrate that this problem is not just one faced by the American electorate.

Since many developments in technology begin in the US before arriving on these shores, British voters may want to consider carefully the creeping trend towards e-voting and other forms of non-paper based electoral systems.

The following report from the Computer Security Group at the University of California, Santa Barbara (which I attended as an undergraduate) illustrates the significant security weaknesses in electronic voting systems in California and Ohio (two keys states in any US election).

The report makes very disturbing reading and includes a video demonstrating the simple process by which these machines can be adjusted to register a different result to the one entered by the voter - all done without any indication on the machine that there is a problem.

View the video and remember Stalin's maxim:

“Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.”

Preserving freedoms can sometimes involve the most mundane of issues - in this case electoral administration.

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