The most current election was the first time I was old enough to place my vote. As I made my way to the polls, I was more worried about whether I could make it through the lines before my next class started, than I was about whether the polling machines would work. I had heard issues regarding machines not working 100% of the time, but I just figured it was always figured out. Otherwise, why would every state continue using them? This could be the reason this continues to happen, most people do not bother to question the machines, the people who create the machines, or those that are handling them.
After watching the movie Hacking Democracy from HBO, I realized how ridiculous it is to have simply accepted the fact that all polling machines are accurate, or that the people who are handling them are honest. It was scary to think that the people’s votes are not really determining who takes the county’s highest positions in office. In the documentary, issues of tampering are addressed, but also issues of negligence. They find votes that have been signed by polling staff in the trash. There is no reason why this should be happening. When dealing with something as serious as who is running the country, organization should be a given.
In the NY Times article, “Can you count on these machines?,” the 2000 election’s polling system is in question. Jennifer Brunner, Ohio secretary of state, has urged people to return to paper votes, in the wake of the controversy and the break-downs. Some people argue that the malfunctions typically only result in zero to one lost votes. But even that one lost vote, or that one malfunction, can lead to a great unease on behalf of citizens (NYT 70). I think that this is the hardest problem, getting people to trust the machines again. Hopefully this information won’t deter people form voting at all, in a protest of distrust.
In class we had also discussed the future possibility of voting being done all online, through home computers. There are a few of problems with this; access, reliability, and safety. Those who do not have access to a home computer may be less likely to vote, or will be crowding public libraries and computer labs. There is also the problem of reliability, people may not trust that the site is up and running. Also, hacking would also become a problem. I am not sure I would trust that the site was being properly run, or that people were not hacking in and erasing or tampering with my vote. Perhaps the best option would be to switch back to paper polls?