Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Electronic voting

It is important to have a perspective on this. We are not in Zimbabwe, we also do not live in the terror state of the foetid imagination of the conspiracy theorists or the authoritarian hell described by some of the weirder right libertarians. This is not to say that we do not have flaws in a democracy distorted by money, media and the banality of public debate. Nevertheless, whatever the arguments about electoral systems, the votes are counted and the result respected. This is why a gradual encroaching on the basic principle of the count is worrying.

With the presidential elections due, Jeff Weintraub has once more raised the problems of electronic voting in the United States, a system open to fraud. It is a theme covered by the documentary Hacking Democracy which Jeff mentions in a second post. He does not agree that the New Hampshire primary was one such scandal (follow the links on his site), but his concern is both urgent and appropriate.

As technology, rather than the quality of representation and the articulation of real political alternatives, is often raised as a solution to the issue of low voter turnout in this country, we need to be fully aware of the risks and the limitations of going down this route.

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