Monday, March 05, 2007

Another Reason Not To Use ATM-Style Voting Machines

A number of arguments have been made about electronic voting machines, the lack of a paper trail, the potential lack of security in the software, the fact that the source code is not public, potential for switching or erasing memory cards, etc. But there's another reason why governments should be careful about investing heavily in these machines, over cheaper or mechanical alternatives. If you're paying $3,000, $4,000, $5,000 or more per machine, for how many elections are you expecting to use the machines? What if you find yourself suddenly unable to get software patches, replacement parts, or repair services?
Diebold Inc. saw great potential in the modernization of elections equipment. Now, analysts say, executives may be angling for ways to dump its e-voting subsidiary that's widely seen as tarnishing the company's reputation.

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Might Diebold choose to keep the voting business and grow it?

"It's a possibility, but I'd assign it a very low probability," Luria said.
Sure, they may sell their voting machine division, but then there are issues about who's buying it and why. If it's a private equity firm, which the article suggests as a possibility, who will they sell it to? What company with a good reputation in this type of manufacture will look at Diebold's experience and not be concerned about its own reputation?

There's no scandal in scantron voting systems - you have paper ballots, accurate counts, easy recounts, fewer machines per polling station, easier setup.... Maybe it's time for our nation's politicians to stop gushing, "Oooooh, shiny..." every time they see a costly high-tech gadget they can buy with taxpayer money.

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