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Protecting Every Voter’s Ballot: 6 Great Reads

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Every vote counts. is an important principle of democracy Throughout the history of democratic elections People have built many safeguards to ensure that votes are cast and counted fairly: paper ballots. curtain around the voting booth locked ballot box controlled counting Provisions for recounting, etc.

With the advent of computer technology Therefore, the vote counting was faster. And although there is some hope Safer and more accurate voting But the internet also allows hackers to attack voting systems and provides new tools for campaigns to sway public opinion. Here are the highlights of The Conversation’s coverage of these issues.

1. Old voting machines

After attempts to count the votes in the 2000 election failed, the federal government gave the states huge sums of money. But nearly two decades later, as Lawrence Norden and Christopher Famighetti of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University explain, adding cash Only once left the troubling legacy of the aging voting machine:

“Imagine you go to your basement and dust off the laptop or cell phone you were using in 2002. What if you tried to turn it on?”

That is the mechanism on which US democracy depends.

2. Not everyone can use this device.

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Most voting machines do not create accommodation for physical disabilities, which affects how people vote. Juan Gilbert of the University of Florida noted the problem:

“In the 2012 Presidential Election … the turnout rate for people with disabilities was 5.7 percent lower than those without disabilities. Three million more voters will weigh in on issues that matter locally, stately and nationally.”

until now Most efforts to solve the problem involve the use of special voting equipment specifically for people with disabilities. It’s expensive and inefficient – ​​and remember, separation is not equal. Gilbert devised an open-source (read: inexpensive) voting machine system that people with disabilities could use. people can use including those without disabilities

With a system that has been tested and approved in many states. Voters can vote using a keyboard, joystick, physical buttons, touch screen, or even their voice.

3. The machine is not safe.

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Partly because of their age. Almost any voting machine in use is vulnerable to various types of cyber attacks. For many years, researchers have documented methods of interfering with vote counting. And only a handful of machines have received cyber protection upgrades.

The fact that the voting system is so widespread – with multiple machines in every municipality across the country – also weakens the system, writes Richard Forno of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County: There are more opportunities for attackers to find their way in.

“Voter registration and management systems operated by state and national governments are also at risk. The hack here could affect voter lists and citizen databases. Failure to secure these systems and records can result in fraudulent information in the voter database. This may lead to improper voter registration. (or illegal) and could lead to fraudulent voting.”

4. Even without an attack main concern

Even if an attack never happened – or if no one could prove it happened – the public’s trust in the election would run the risk that the losers would benefit from the fact that cyber weaknesses existed. That opportunity could destabilize the country, said Herbert Lin of Stanford University.

“State and local election officials can and should provide alternate paper for this (and every) November ballot. Refuting Claims of Election Fraud Electronically or otherwise It is trying to prove that something didn’t happen – it can’t be done.”

5. Russians are a factor.

Eric Lohr, a historian at American University, describes the centuries-old experience Russia has had in meddling in the affairs of other countries. But noted that the US is not innocent:

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“In fact, the United States has a long history of measuring elections in other countries.”

No country is unique: nations have sought to influence each other’s domestic politics throughout history.

6. The real problem is not technology at all.

in any case Major Threats to US Election Integrity It deals with domestic policies that govern how voting districts are designed and who can vote.

Penn State technologist Sascha Meinrath discusses how the partisan committee has “systematically pulling up voting districts in ways that undermine the power of opposing parties” and “choosing to deprive poor, minority and overwhelmingly supportive democracy”

There is a lot of work to be done.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of an article originally published on October 18, 2016.

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