Monday, November 06, 2006

I can't vote on my own anymore

For the past two elections, for the first time in my voting life, I couldn't vote on my own. I had to ask my husband to help me use the touchscreen. I have a movement disorder, but I can use an ATM touchscreen on my own just fine. However, the touch screen bubbles on the voting machine were placed so close together and the screen was so poorly designed that I could not pick the candidates on my own. Just one of the many flaws of the touch screen voting machines.

Like the rest of the country I was really embarrassed about the voting shenanigans in Florida. In response, the California politicians rushed in these touchscreen machines. Many people don't trust them and rightly so.

More than terrorists hijacking airplanes, I worry about terrorists and other extremists hijacking our voting systems. It is too easy to change the software of our current machines and therefore change people's votes. The code is proprietary. Under current law only certain groups are allowed to test the machines.

Even with no malicious intent involved, computers crash. Software has bugs. You can not count on any computer system to work flawlessly. Yet our current voting system is based on that assumption. The error checking and auditing is laughable. No business would stand for such a system. I used to work for bank systems at credit unions. Believe it or not, yes there's a paper trail for every single transaction you make, even at an ATM. And occasionally the credit union must go back and audit every single transaction. The incumbent Secretary of State only got the machines to produce a paper trail after massive protests. The fact the machines weren't designed with a paper trail to begin with indicates the massive ignorance of the current Secretary of State about technology.

Some folks say "vote absentee." That will not help you. A human will merely use the same machines to put your vote into the same flawed machines.

Before my life as a mom, I help design and deploy the infrastructure of a major broadband ISP. I thought a lot about security issues. I don't believe in government conspiracies. I do believe that my vote counts if the machines work. However I don't trust that computers will always work perfectly.

We're at a crucial time in this whole voting machine process. I actually haven't made up my mind who will get my vote for governor. I still haven't made up my mind about the huge numbers of other ballot initiatives, except I'm pro choice so I'll vote no on 85. I still have to sort through piles of information and actually read the text of all the initiatives. But I do know I'll vote for Debra Bowen for Secretary of State.

One of the first things she did as a rookie congressperson was to pass a bill to put the State Congress online. She also passed a bill to prevent identity theft. Her web site says sensible things about the voting machines. If you care about the integrity of our voting system, I urge you to vote for Debra Bowen.
Crossposted to Silicon Valley Moms Blog

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