"...where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
-2 Corinthians 3:17 (NASB)

"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
~John Adams

7.31.2008

Are Voting Systems Fair?

I prepared this post for some debate thing and then couldn't post it, so I'm posting it here. I think this is appropriate since I passed a bill at Patriot Academy intended to directly deal with these problems. The text of this bill is coming soon.

Are Voting Systems Fair?
POSITION: CON

OPENING STATEMENT:
Voting systems in the United States are not fair because...

I don't think the issue is whether they are fair or not, the issue is whether they are just. I contend that they are not because the electronic systems that are used in elections are not 1) secure and 2) open.


TALKING POINTS:
1) Secure

There have been a lot of studies that have found major security errors in various electronic voting systems. Five of these are documented on my blog here: http://brianfactor.blogspot.com/2007/11/01001000-01100001-01101110-01110011.html

Now I could enumerate the results, credentials, etc. but the bottom line is this: a voting machine just puts out a string of 1s and 0s that we know as binary. No matter how long or complicated we make this line, it will still be duplicated at some point. Security is just about making enough checks and verifications that we know when something has gone wrong.

2) Openness

http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~daw/papers/testimony-house07.pdf

The above link is to Testimony before the House on source disclosure in voting. It was given by David Wagner, Professor of Computer Science at U.C. Berkeley. According to him:
"I am not aware of any computer security expert who suggests that we should rely upon the secrecy of the source code as a key part of our strategy for securing our elections26 ; this would violate basic principles of secure design27 ." (Wagner 7)
This is exactly what we are doing currently. We are relying on secretive corporate agendas to keep our election software safe. Bad idea.


CLOSING STATEMENT:
So, what should we do about it? I propose two policies, intended to address both of the problems I presented above.

1) Paper print-out

You would never make a major purchase without getting a receipt, would you? Of course not. Then why would you cast a ballot when there was no way to verify your vote? I believe that it must be REQUIRED that election systems have some kind of paper receipts that can be recounted.

I am not advocating just paper ballots! Paper ballots also have many problems, such as the likelihood of errors, which are addressed by electronic machines. However, if we combine electronic and paper voting, we get the best, most secure, and most open voting system possible.

2) Source disclosure.

When you buy a remote controlled car, you have every right to disassemble it and figure out how it works. As long as you don't copy the design, you aren't infringing on anyone's rights by learning about this device. For some reason, Diebold thinks that they can be held to a different standard. These industries need to realize that when they serve the PEOPLE, they must reveal to the PEOPLE what is going on.

Secrecy is not an option, so we ought to disclose how the software used in election systems actually works.

It is time that we send a message to all the government and cooperate interests involved. Elections are the PUBLIC'S business and should not be based upon secrecy. The public has a right to verify that voting systems that run our nation.

1 comment:

  1. Whoa! He posted again!

    Speaking of Patriot Academy, we need to talk with some "others" about Patriot Academy for next year.

    ReplyDelete