Many people fear electronic voting. What if there is an error? Don’t we need a paper trial? How can we be sure that the election won’t be stolen? My response is simple. Ever buy gas? When you buy gas do you pay cash or use a credit card? And when the terminal offers to print you a receipt do you take it, save it, and check it against your monthly Visa bill? Or do you press “no receipt” and drive away?
I have never once checked a gas receipt against my monthly credit card bill and I suspect most people don’t either. The credit card companies have big incentives to record transactions quickly and accurately. The system isn’t perfect but it’s good enough so that I don’t worry about being ripped off and, the key point, the electronic system is certainly more accurate than the primitive process of counting out paper and metallic tokens and handing them over to a minimum-wage cashier who repeats the process by counting out change. I see no reason why electronic voting should not be far superior to punch cards or other manual machine.
Obviously, we need to be careful, which brings me to a suggestion. How about open-source software for voting machines? Opening the source makes life easier for outsider hackers but harder for inside-hackers and open source is less-susceptible to bugs. Open-source would also be well, open – as in an open society.
I would say turn this project over to Linus Torvalds but he’s a Finn and we have to be careful about them but surely there are some skilled programmers who would like to lay the core for voting in the twenty-first century?
Addendum: Yup, here is an open-source voting project.