Index of Topics - Old
New Index of
has been given a rather broad definition.
For the purpose of this study guide we will limit it to people casting
votes using computerized voting equipment. While most conceive of a future
when polling places are far more up-to-date, the idea of making a vote on a
computer raises a number of ethical problems that must be solved before any
such endeavor can take place. Voting in America
long ago became mechanized; is it time to take make it computerized? If so,
what standards should be used and what are some possible ramifications?
is a list of the fundamental requirements for electronic voting systems
listed in decreasing order of importance as stated by Michael Ian Shamos in
his article Electronic
Voting - Evaluating the Threat
keep each voter's choices an inviolable secret.
shalt allow each eligible voter to vote only once, and only for those offices
for which she is authorized to cast a vote.
shalt not permit tampering with thy voting system, nor the exchange of gold
shalt report all votes accurately.
voting system shall remain operable throughout each election.
Thou shalt keep an audit trail to detect sins
against Commandments II-IV, but thy audit trail shall not violate Commandment
On thing that plagues the minds
of most analysts are the security risks
that would accompany converting the voting process from a physical medium and
subjecting it to the perils of computers.
- Could crackers change
the outcome of an election? Would an electronic election pose a
tantalizing target for any vandal? Could a "voting network" be
hacked like the Internet? Are we willing to expose the voting process to
- Could a rival
government cause a disruption in an electronic election more easily than
a paper-based election?
- Would security, tight
enough to alleviate the threat of outside influences, make it
prohibitively difficult to cast your vote? Does such security even exist?
- What would ensure security more:
Open source code for everyone to see or private so that hackers can't find
holes in the security as easily?
3. Reliability and Standards
Another question on the minds of many
concerned voters is how reliable are these new electronic voting systems and
who determines the standards
of reliability. Even though it may be
extremely difficult and time consuming to count the paper ballots of
today’s systems it is at least comforting to know that there is
reliable hard evidence to prove the results of an election if a problem
- What would happen if
the electronic voting machine “crashed” during operation
within an election? Would there
be a reliable way to retrieve the information within the machine. Would it be possible under any circumstance
to loose the machines results?
- If there was a power
outage could the election continue on schedule?
4. Equal voting opportunity
Clearly, not everyone has had
equal opportunity to achieve proficiency on computing systems. This gap in
knowledge has been dubbed The Digital Divide
and poses tough questions for the future of voting on computers.
- Would these new
electronic voting machines be easy enough for everyone to use regardless
of their computer experience?
Could non computer proficient voters claim discrimination if they
felt that the electronic systems were too complicated?
- Would the ease of
electronic voting unfairly over represent the opinions of those
communities that could afford the electronic systems?
- Is it ethical to have
different voting systems
(some decrepit) in different communities?
5. Problems with the status quo
Many see the events
and confusion surrounding the 2000
Presidential election in Florida as proof that a change in the way we
vote is necessary. A careful
examination of the current system should help us decide if an update to these
new electronic systems is needed.
- Is the current system
If not, is it feasible to make
- Does the current
system discriminate against segments of the population (the handicapped,
the poor, etc)?
- Would electronic
voting alleviate these problems or compound them?
- Are we blowing the
whole thing out of proportion?
Will there always be a minority that claims any system is unfair
to some group of people? Can a
voting system ever please everyone?
Index of Topics - Study Guide