Sunday, November 5, 2006

Election Day in the US

Do you remember the US presidential election in 2000? If you do, you will remember that the US did not know who was going to be the next president for a few months. What was causing the hold-up? The problems that occurred with the paper ballots in Florida. The election was so close that the US had to wait for the results from Florida to determine who would be the next president. To help prevent this problem from happening again, electronic voting machines were introduced in the US in 2002, and their use is increasing.

Electronic voting ("e-voting") machines are not new. Other countries, such as Belgium, Australia, and the UK, have been using e-voting machines before 2002.

The use of E-voting machines have caused debate in the US. Supporters state that e-voting machines make the voting process easier and faster. Critics state that e-voting machines can be easily hacked. The example used by the critics is Princeton University's Professor Edward Felton's experiment to show that machine tampering could occur and how tampering can dramatically affect an election outcome.

Other problems reported with the voting machines include: miscounts, frozen machines, and missing memory cards. (Note: Diebold Incorporated, the largest manufacturer of e-voting machines, reports that these problems have been fixed).

The Technology Perspective
The IEEE wrote a white paper on a security analysis on e-voting machines. The paper highlights the security problems with e-voting machines, and it devises a solution to the security problems with e-voting machines. It is a recommmended read, especially for IT students who are specializing in system security. Please note that this white paper was written in 2004.

Source: Sisco, Paul. Electronic voting machines under scrutiny Voice of America. 3 November 2006. Retrieved from on 5 November 2006.


Anonymous said...

yeah i notice that the liberals aren't bitchin about fixed machines now that they won

Jennifer said...

Actually, anonymous, that's not completely true. People of both "liberal" and "conservative" political affiliations complained about how the votes were being tallied by the electronic machines, even with the recent mid-term election.

From a technical perspective, I don't completely buy the theory that all the votes being cast are getting tallied to a certain candidate. However, I do buy the notion that not all the votes were being tallied because of technical difficulties (ex: corrupted memory cards, votes not being properly copied to the memory card).