Digital votes?

At first I thought Grant McCracken was crackers with his suggestion for solving the Florida/Michigan revote problem, but on second thought, there might be something here:

The Democratic party is acting like its 1999.  Mail-in?  Are you kidding me? American Idol manages to canvass 10s of millions of people in a two hour period with results tabulated within less than 24 hours.  You might not like the music that Idol insists on, but the show has done us all a massive favor by demonstrating how quickly and elegantly the wishes of the public can now be canvassed.

Yes, of course, there are differences.  On Idol, people can vote more than once and in the world of public representation this is, um, a wee problem.   But I cannot believe that there is not some work-around available.  With a unique identifier, it should be possible to prevent the Chicago problem of people who vote early, often, and indefinitely.

Here’s what’s strange.  In all of the thousands of words inked on this issue, I can’t find anyone talking about the digital option.  It’s as if politics is the captive of a time lock.  And 1999 is optimistic by about 50 years.  The nice thing about this opportunity is that it’s going to have to be irregular and unorthodox and a little unsatisfactory in any case.  Which is to say we have a license to try something new.

I know many of the problems, as a reader for years of Ed Felten’s Freedom to Tinker. But I’m all in favor of novel approaches. After all, if Estonia can do it, why not us?

One thought on “Digital votes?

  1. Frank Leahy

    I’ve always wondered why voting machines aren’t open-source. Open-source hardware. Open-source software. Real-time view of data going from precincts to state that is watchable by all. All data available via excel export so that people can manipulate and look for problems. In this way problems are likely to be found within minutes, machines can be locked down for further investigation, etc.

    – Frank


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