When Will Computerized Voting Become Mainstream?

In the movie “Man of the Year”, we saw a flawed Computer System error a Comedian into the prominent role as President. In real life there can be no nationwide contract for machines. Each state regulates how it’s going to let voters partake in elections and whether it will comply with Federal standards.

However, more ballot space and a call for multi-language support along with disability-assisted systems are making the old systems obsolete. A true computerized version can bring on speculation of miscalculation – which is no different than of the past. We just trade gears and rubber bands with chips and disk space. So when will we start to see a 100% computerized voting system?

The Election Technology Council published a report called “Broken: The Regulatory Process for the Voting Industry“. In the document, the puts a call to action toward the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). They chronicle the history of the voting machine, the underlying problems with the regulatory process the EAC sets and what regulations should be instituted to make the process secure for the Billions of voters out there.

First of all, there are a few acronyms that need to be defined. HAVA stands for “Help America Vote Act” which was enacted in 2002. The Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) is who will oversee the creation of VVSG, otherwise known as the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. The Voting machines need to pass the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which is a 1972 law that defines how federal advisory committees operate. Finally, the National Standards and Technology (NIST) was initiated to help with computer based voting.

Voting machines have been in existence for over 100 years. The first machine was used in Lockport, New York in 1892. The machines made a slow progression – by 1929 only twenty-four states used voting machines. These machines will slowly canvas all the states and will be used in elections up until 2002.

In 2000, the US saw the biggest issue with our outdated voting system. The “” became a popular phrase that year. Also at that time, we posed the possibility of a system that would cover multi-language and disability support. Optical scan and Direct Recording (DRE) voting systems were poised to be the evolutionary step. HAVA was passed in 2002 so states could get funding to update their archaic systems to a more updated derivative.

However, ETC outlines flaws to the certification process and VVSG. ETC has pointed out that “As of May 2008, no voting system meets the EAC certification”. Add to that rising certification costs and “lack of agency readiness” and it will become increasingly difficult to fulfill the EAC requirements.

ETC makes policy recommendations that will help avoid issues. They convey the need for regulating the voting industry. ETC believes this will improve communication while placing the rulemaking process into certification policies.

Ultimately, this is a very intense read but well worth it. The ETC shows concern in our Fifth Amendment rights; while at the same time pave the way for a true computerized voting system with a say in what the certifications are. For those of us who chose to vote, we want to feel comfortable in trusting the system that tabulates a winner. After all, a comedian in office would be a change, but we would want who we truly elected. Not what a computer thinks we elected.

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