Authored by Phil Dotree in Politics
Published on 12-10-2009
Electronic voting machines are gaining favor in many states and localities. The machines are mass produced by companies like DieBold and are the subject of a lot of controversy. Politicians and laymen alike argue the benefits and drawbacks of electronic voting systems. In election years, these debates can get to a fever pitch. Here’s a look at some of the major pros and cons of electronic voting machine technology.
More Accurate Vote Counting
Computers are designed for accurate counting. Ultimately, that’s all that they do. Electronic voting machines are free from human error when they’re set up correctly. There’s no possibility of misreading a properly cast ballot. Electronic machines could potentially be far more accurate at counting votes. In any case, it’s a very standardized way of counting votes. When the machines are used throughout a state, the margin of error should be the same at any two areas. This arguably makes them more fair across the board.
Less of a Margin Of Error For Voters
Of course, this does assume that the votes are properly filled in or punched. When a voter makes any ballot errors at all, the vote could be discarded or set aside for human readers. This famously recalls the “hanging chad” problem in the 2000 Presidential election. In areas where voters aren’t properly instructed on how to vote, their votes might be discarded. An obvious choice for a certain candidate may be ignored by a computer because of poor shading or even a bad ballot. Opponents to electronic voting argue that even one missed vote is one vote too many.
Another “pro” argument is that electronic voting machines can standardize voting and make the entire process more efficient. While voters may take up time in the booths themselves, the machines that count the ballots will always work almost instantly. As with any computational task, computers are faster than humans. Electronic machines can provide up to the second tallies for votes.
Possibility of Hacking
Electronic voting machines might be hacked, leading to widespread fraud.. In serious cases, this could cost voters hundreds of millions of dollars and force re-votes. In the worst cases of all, though, a politician might be elected through the efforts of a very subtle hacker. Many of the voting machines are connected in some way to the Internet. One of the most damning arguments against the technology points out how easily standard computers are hacked. It would only take one intelligent hacker to wreak havoc throughout the system.
Whether or not you agree with electronic voting, it seems almost inevitable that electronic systems will find their way into our ballot booths in the near future. Before those elections, though, the problems of the electronic voting machines will need to be dealt with. The technology behind the systems improves every day. Some day it may even be possible for voters to hit the polls with their own computers. Here’s hoping that hacking and error issues are resolved before that day.
What do you think of electronic voting? Post in our comments section below.