Or maybe the century.
Forget gas prices, prisoner abuse in Iraq, the capture of Osama bin Laden, and the return of the Washington Redskins to the top echelon of the NFL. The big story is going to be electronic voting, the problems caused by it, and the the accusations by one side or the other of fixed elections.
Two weeks ago California banned electronic voting in four counties and gave ten other counties a list of requirements to meet before they could use the machines.
Today, a reader sent me a link to a story about San Bernardino County’s plans to defy the order from the California Secretary of State and use the touch-screen machines anyway.
Don’t ask “Can they DO that?”. Yes, they can plan to defy the ban. Ask “Will they get away with it?”. We’ll have to see. Fortunately, the Left Coast is governed by a cybernetic organism. Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton.
He walks into the San Bernardino County seat and asks if they will abide by the ban. They tell him that they will not. He leans on the desk and asks again. Again they refuse. He looks at them quietly for a long moment. Then he says “I’ll be back,” turns, and walks out.
We all know what happens next.
The problem with electronic voting, especially electronic voting without a paper trail, is not that it’s insecure. I imagine, after some work, it can be made pretty tight. The problem is that we will always suspect that it’s insecure. No patches, no service packs, no little paper receipt will ever change our distrust of the machines.
“We don’t want to return to a less accurate, less accessible paper ballot system,” said Mischelle Townsend, registrar of voters for Riverside County. “It invites further complications in terms of poll-worker training and voter education.”
I’ll take those complications over loss of trust in our elections, thank-you very much. I don’t care if it takes a week to count the damn ballots. I want the ballots to contain the votes that the citizens intended to cast, and I want to know that they haven’t been fucked with.
Voting and electing government officials is FUNDAMENTAL to the American way of life. There can be no doubt about an election’s validity. If we feel doubt, our way of life is threatened. If it isn’t gone already.
I don’t think I’m overstating this. Electronic voting threatens to damage this country more than any war or scandal or recession could. Our nation, our system, can weather storms like Vietnam or Watergate or the Depression. Loss of faith in our elections, and by extension the winners of those elections, isn’t a tempest to be waited out. It’s the end of the world as we know it.
I hope I’m wrong.