Congress Moving Towards Banning Touchscreen Voting

Ugh. I weep for the future whenever Congress votes on anything remotely resembling technology. Down swoop the special interests, the 529s and the yahoos, filled with well-meaning yet preposterous intentions, armed with pitchforks and waving fire brands. And witness the mob rule in action right now in Congress.

It looks like Congress is moving towards banning touchscreen voting. And Noah T. Winer, Political Action for MoveOn.Org, lifts his cherry juice stained face, his gap-toothed grin shining in the torchlight, to say, “we got them fancy fellers on the run, now, boys!”

Touchscreen voting, secure digital transactions and a nationally-connected network of voting machines could have ushered in an era of unprecedented electoral responsiveness and accuracy, but because a few bad-apple Republican scumbags seem to have decided to use them for political gain, we need to destroy the monster.

I wonder what objections these people who so fear and so resent electronic voting have with using their local ATM machines? Probably none at all, nor do they object to ordering thousands of dollars of merchandise annually online or swiping their credit cards at Wegmans or whatever is their local equivalent. Nope. Those things are fine, but voting – a process less than half of us even do in the first place – is beyond the pale. Simply unacceptable.

Yet the truth is, every single one of the above transactions is at least as secure or insecure as electronic voting, in a conceptual bubble. The problem was never the computers or the technology, it was political opportunists who at minimum allowed companies like Diebold produce machines which were twenty years out of date and seemingly intentionally designed for tampering. I’ll not seek to interpret these people’s actions or motives: their motives do not matter, our response does.

And our response has so far been reprehensible.

All the technology we require to make electronic voting easy, cheap and secure is already freely available and ready for the implementation.  All that is required is a decent set of standards to be applied at the Federal level, to be implemented in whole or not at all at the State level.  Or perhaps more correctly, all that is required is the will to get something done in Congress that is of genuine use to the American people.  The same standards requirements were laid out for Internet banking and ATM technology years ago because banks wanted it.  Since those people with the money and the influence wanted it, the thing was done, but now we have a silly witch-hunt on our hands.

I wonder when the switch was made from MoveOn demanding paper receipts to demanding an end to electronic voting altogether?  Probably when they realized that paper ballots are just silly, because you can write whatever you want on a piece of paper and it proves not a thing.

And in five years – if it even takes that long – you will see this same group clammoring for “safe, secure electronic voting,” because of the underserved needs of this group or that.  And they’ll be right: allowing electronic voting would open the doors of electoral process to the bed-ridden, those who live in remote locations and many others.  You could use your computer and enter either your Social Security number, your driver’s license number or your credit card number, thereby verifying your identity, and vote from the comfort of your own home.  No more waiting in line, no more complaining about the lack of machines.

Why not cut to the chase and get something reasonable on the books now?