Al's Views, Personal Thoughts

A Can of Grubby Worms

26 December 2003

The year 2000 marked a departure from the traditional voting method using the tried and true ballot. Suddenly, the general public began to distrust it, wanting to improve the process by using computer technology. The cry went out for Uncle to assist the states in devising an electronic voting system capable of being all things to all people. Almost immediately, the Clintons and other Leftists demanded that an electronic means of vote recording be employed. However, when the very same people who want to allow voters to register on the Internet, you have to at least suspect that someone is either intentionally working to stuff the ballot box or that they are innocently doing so. In either case, the net result could be a unified, centralized voting system that works-depending on whom you ask..

Take, for example, an article in Wired, entitled, "Broken Machine Politics," by Paul O'Donnell (pp.144, January 2004). In this story, O'Donnell brings to bear the expert advice of a variety of computer experts, such as Peter Neumann, a SRI computer scientist; Barbara Simons, former president of the Association for Computer Machinery; and David Dill, a science professor at Standford. And what was the consensus?

"Voting, they explained, is too important to leave up to computers--at least, these types of computers. They're vulnerable to malfunction and mischief that could go undetected. Where they'd already been adopted, the devices--known in the industry as DREs, short for direct recording electronic--had experienced glitches that could have called into question entire elections. And they keep no paper record, no backup. 'We said, "Slow down. You've got a problem,"' recalls Neumann," says O'Donnell.

Quite simply, DREs are far too easy to mess with, as this author has maintained since 2000 when the issue became a national effort. Of course, there is an enormous amount of pressure now being applied to State Legislators to having DRE's in place before the 2004 Presidential Election. But, since more of the facts have emerged, through the brave efforts of people, like Neumann, Simons, Dill, and others, Ohio has decided to shelf the idea of using DREs (direct recording electronic) by 2004-at least until 2005.

"The state's top elections official said Tuesday that security problems found in new touch-screen voting systems mean they won't be in place statewide in time for the November 2004 presidential election" (Ohio Halts E-Voting Machines, Associated Press, 3 Dec 2003).

Although this is a good thing, you must already know that the fight will not end in Ohio. After all, if you intend to stuff the ballot box, why not do it without getting caught--and electronic voting is just the way to do that. And, how much trouble would it be to get some loyal computer programmer to write code that would cause one or more DREs to count certain types of votes twice, or perhaps by some other equation--resulting in a particular candidate being elected to office in the process--an individual who truly does not deserve the position.

Probably the hardest thing for the common man to consider here is the idea that there might be human beings out there who would 1) lie, 2) cheat, and 3) kill to put through their political agendas. The reason why it is so difficult to accept is that when a common person considers this, he or she automatically turns inward to examine their own inner constitution. They ask, "Would I do something like that?" Of course, the answer for the brunt of human kind is "No!" and so end of story-no acceptance of the premise.

What would the motive be for individuals to stretch the envelope to do things like this? For most, it would be money. For others, power. For even more, money and power; and what, pray tell, happens to those who find themselves elbow to elbow with these kinds of people on an almost daily basis? Well, if he's an honest man, a God-fearing man, he'll eventually end up in a federal prison because he failed to keep his mouth shut-like a man we all know called James Traficant.

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Allan B. Colombo

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