[Their] Head, Board, Whack

This morning, NPR is featuring a story about states where repeated failures and justifiable suspicions have provoked election officials to abandon electronic voting machines in favor of good ol’ fashioned paper ballots. I’m glad that they’re covering the story about the risks attendant upon black-box voting systems, but there’d have been no need to waste the tax dollars spent on these machines if someone had listened to people like Bruce Schneier, Doc Searls (sorry Doc, can’t find an exemplary link), David Weinberger, and (I’m sure there are plenty of others whose names didn’t make as big an impression on me) plenty of other tech observers. Electronic voting, sure — but with an open architecture and a paper verification trail.
Instead, legislators paid attention to movie-scenario fears about hackers (which having proprietary black boxes would presumably fend off — yeah, sure) and interested hucksters. And as a result, millions of dollars that could have been spent wisely on verifiable voting machines, or on medical research, or on education and training, or on affordable housing, or on care for wounded veterans, will be wasted (except to the extent that they made black-box voting-machine manufacturers rich).

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