May 2015

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9 things about voting machines

The National Council of State Legislatures has a released a report on voting machines: Elections Technology: Nine Things Legislators May Want to Know

It makes a strong case for the importance of technology in elections, planning, and understanding the details. We especially an additional borrowed list within the report: Ten Things to Know About Selecting a Voting System

Concerned with two partisan registrars? Be careful what you ask for.

How to manage and judge our elections without partisan bias is tough. Occasionally Secretary’s of State act in blatantly partisan ways. Cases in recent history include Catherine Harris in Florida and Ken Blackwell in Ohio.

Here in Connecticut the Secretary of the State proposed turning elections over to a single unelected official in each town, rather than the current two elected registrars of opposing parties.

Meanwhile in Kansas a bill would give the Secretary of State the power to prosecute election fraud.

The limits of Democracy w/o Information

Last week Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill, addressed the League of Women Voters of Northeastern Connecticut on a variety of topics. One of the items discussed was the lack of education in civics and its possible link to the lack of participation by younger voters. The two are certainly related, yet we also live in an age when the at least over the last two administrations, the Constitution has been ignored in the name of security – just when those voters have come of age.

Also I recently read “They Know Everything About You”, which I highly recommend. This week the author, Robert Scheer, was interviewed in a seven part series at the Real News. Part three is particularly relevant to the subject of Democracy and information available to the voters. <video>

Too Reliable Computers: A threat to life and to democracy!

Most people are aware of the risks of unreliable computers, yet tend to be oblivious to the distinct risk of too reliable computers.  If computers were as unreliable as people, we would not be at risk of excess trust and overconfidence.

One particular anecdote from lasts night’s Newshour highlights the risks of computers that are too reliable, yet not perfect.  When it comes to medicine (or robotic weapons) too reliable computers can cause harm, including death.  When it comes elections too reliable computers can kill democracy.

Should we trust Internet voting? A Video

A new video from a Princeton student.