Re: HR 811 (The Holt Bill) and The Commission: Alieninvaders in our democracy

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Mon Jun 25 2007 - 15:48:47 CDT

Teresa,

> The public cannot scrutinize computerized election
> technology, because they don't have the knowledge and skill to do so.
>
This is a red herring. "The public" has as much or more ability to
scrutinize computerized election technology as any body. There are over one
million engineers signed up on sourceforge.net. The voting application is
not one of the more technically challenging applications out there in the
open source world.

The difference is this: Under the disclosure to experts regimen currently
in force (and endorsed by HR 811), we have to trust the experts designated
by the officials. Under a public disclosure regimen, we can scrutinize the
technology ourselves, or, if we're lack the necessary expertise, we can
choose the experts as we want.

The is no way to dumb down the voting system so "anyone can understand
it" -- certainly not in a system such as ours where we vote on so many
different things and have so many different districts. Going to Hand Marked
Hand Counted paper ballots would do little to make the system simple enough
that "anyone can understand it." Just think about the process of preparing
all the ballots and making sure that each voter gets the correct ballot with
all the correct ballot rotation rules, multiple language requirements,
accessibility requirements, and multitude of other rules followed --
dictated by reams of election law that differ from state-to-state.

Very few can understand it in any case. But this is not an argument for
keeping the code secret any more than we should keep the body of legal code
secret because few can understand that.

If we went to a parliamentary system and the only thing we vote on is Member
of Parliament, then maybe it would be sufficiently simple that "anyone can
understand it." However, this level of reform is just not on the table at
this time.

Alan D.

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Received on Sat Jun 30 23:17:03 2007

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