Thursday, October 15, 2009

Electoral short circuit

I was thinking about voter fraud on the way to work this morning, actually, so I want to sound off on CH’s earlier post.

First off, gerrymandering is certainly a questionable practice, if not fraudulent per se. It’s done by both parties, so nobody can claim to be blameless. Tellingly, Wikipedia’s article on electoral fraud does discuss gerrymandering, saying that although it is not technically fraud, “it is sometimes considered to be a violation of the principles of democracy.”

The fact of the matter is that unless we decide we want to do away with ancient institutions like congressional districts and the Electoral College, manipulation of voter demographics is here to stay. The good news is that particularly egregious cases of manipulation are subject to judicial scrutiny (thanks largely to the decision in Baker v. Carr), and the redrawing of districts takes place so often that it’s unlikely that one side will end up ahead of the other in the long run.

Another issue related to voter fraud that I really wanted to discuss is the electronic voting machines (and this is what I was thinking about this morning). I find it a little upsetting that many (largely from the left, actually) are against the movement toward electronic voting machines. Wikipedia even says that “Elections which use electronic voting machines are prone to fraud in ways that elections using simpler technology are not (although they also prevent some methods of fraud).”

As you may have surmised by now, if I were ever to start a religion, its Bible would be Wikipedia. However, despite the level of trust I put in the accuracy of Wikipedia articles, I question the accuracy of that statement. Are there no conceivable technical ways of making electronic voting at least as foolproof as mechanical solutions? If we can develop technology that entrust computers with the storing of our financial data, the continued safety of air and rail travel, and the control of our arsenal of nuclear weapons, surely we can develop a sufficiently foolproof voting machine that will actually decrease fraud and costs, and speed up the tallying process.

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