D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Who'd you vote for in the last election? No, really...who?

Friday, November 3, 2006 1:07 PM

Slashdot has an article here about how a solution vendor is trying to stop the HBO backed movie "Hacking Democracy" from being shown, becuase it says that the movie portrays the company in a bad light. I saw the last half of the movie early this morning and let me tell you: EVERY AMERICAN NEEDS TO SEE THIS. However, I don't think the issue lies with the vendor here. There are two issues that need to be addressed:

Technology

I'm watching them show how they feed sheets through this machine (alright, no biggie...gotta submit the votes somehow), but then they show how to go into the database and edit the records. The database...the database that is used locally for the vote tabulations...is ACCESS. Are you kidding me?! And the databases weren't even password protected?! SERIOUS FLAW in software design there me'thinks. If you're tabulating votes for a local 4-H club meeting, Access is fine. For storing voting data, I would hope a more enterprise level solution would be used. Anyway, the movie goes on to show how easy it is to modify the data stored on the data cards (removable media proprietary to the system). I guess its one of those old dinosaur systems that just does the job?

Workflow

This is where things really start to get disturbing though. Technology is only part of the problem, but the bigger issue is the management and workflow that occurs during the vote tabulation process. Who are the people that are performing the tasks? Who are the people that are overseeing and auditing? Who are the managers? What are the policies to ensure that votes are counted correctly and that no corruption occurs? These were more startling to me than the technology limitations.

There are pieces of the film where I feel that things are streched. They interview a lawyer that was retained by Kerry to investigate the voting results after the last election (although they were never used because he conseded), and he was going on about how Kerry made some comment about New Mexico and what he MEANT was that there was vote rigging...he KNEW it. Well, I'm not so sold on that. And there were some other times where the group seemed a little too PETA for me.

But overall, this is a must see to at least get dialogue talking in the States and every democratic country where voting is becoming more than just using pen and paper.

D




Feedback

# re: Who'd you vote for in the last election? No, really...who?

I'm not sure you quite get how voting works in the US. We kind of just vote for show we all know that our votes don't really count and it really wouldn't matter to us if they ended up in the shredder after we cast them.

To be honest, the way the US is setup, it doesn't matter who's in charge. Our primary two parties are basically the same and they really don't have enough power or time in office to cause too much trouble.

Sure the media likes to hype things up and use all kind of scare tactics to increase viewership, but they get paid by advertisers so they have to keep their shows interesting. The news is just another sitcom or drama here in the US.

Basically, when it comes down to it. Americans vote with their money. It's big corporations who really control how things work and when we don't like the way things are going we stop giving money to that corporation. It's just the way things work and it's a pretty slick system really.

The rest of it is just a show.
11/3/2006 1:26 PM | George

# re: Who'd you vote for in the last election? No, really...who?

Wow a blog post that actually combines two of my favorite but disjointed topics politics and workflow. For more info on hacking democracy you can check it out at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0808532/ 12/2/2007 10:59 AM | Craig

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