Sec'y of State Debra Bowen decertified most of the voting machines in California yesterday. OK now you've got our attention. So who's going to fix this mess. I say there needs to be somebody like Schneier and Lessig to sit on a board for an open source project to solve the electronic voting problem once and for all.
Because the infrastructure - the plumbing - of our society is something we pay very little attention to. And yet when infrastructure fails - as we saw in Minneapolis last week or Manhattan two weeks ago - it fails spectacularly. Our electoral plumbing is also creaky and in bad shape; Florida in 2000 was bad - but at least the votes could be recounted (over and over again). With today's insecure DVR technology, the problem is that we will have more races like the one in Sarasota Florida in 2006 - in which there was a 15% under-vote possibly due to a glitch in the ES & S DVR systems. The final results in the race can never be audited, and the loser litigated to try and get the election run over again. Look, no voting system - no human system - is perfect, or exempt from error, fraud, or challenge. But just as our bridges need to strong enough to ensure that they don't spontaneously collapse, our voting systems need to be robust enough that we're not left in bitter dispute after an election on who voted and how. We don't need voting technology less secure than airport poker machines in Vegas and less auditable than Enron's books. This isn't a partisan issue. It isn't something that 'we can get to later.' A political system everyone agrees is legitimate should last us a long time. And if officials at all levels of government have to work a little harder and spend a little money to maintain and defend the fairness of our political system, I can think of nothing better for them to work on. Can you?