Cheapening Your Vote?

Voting Machines Hackable

Electronic voting machines are famous for their susceptibility to hacking, as shown by several groups, including Ed Felten and his team at Princeton, who write the Freedom to Tinker blog. The group has repeatedly shown various problems with electronic voting machines. Last fall they published a widely read paper on multiple problems with the Diebold Accuvote-TS, which they also demonstrated in this short video posted at Google.

Last week, following more research on voting machine fallibilities, California's Secretary of State Bowen decertified several voting machines in use in the state and imposed new conditions on the machines based on the findings.

There has been some mixed press about Bowen's move. Most of the press seems positive, however a few reporters focused on the "high costs" of implementing the system. Of course "cost" arguments always cause public hesitation but in the end catch up with us.

Bridges Fallible

"Bridge Disaster Could Mean Gas - Tax Hike", the New York Times warns today, noting that the catastrophe "could tip the scales in favor of billions of dollars in higher gasoline taxes for repairs coast to coast". It probably sent shivers down the backs of politicians and citizens alike, from coast to coast.

Of course, inspectors had warned about the structural integrity of the Minnesota bridge for years. But fortunately the warnings were quieted by an outside bridge review in 2001, under Mr. Elwyn Tinklenberg, former Governor Jesse Ventura's transportation commissioner. Current Governor Tim Pawlenty and the transportation commissioner Helen Molnau, (known as "Ma"), say they "relied on experts" to certify the bridge. They have steadfastly resisted tax increases that would have paid for road improvement.

As levees sink and pipes burst, U.S. infrastructure grades fall to C's and D's. Environmental waste clean up "costs", as does implementation of carbon regulation or taking the bus. Education costs are exorbitant too.

And Democracy's Costs So Malleable

But interestingly driving an SUV -- this site we previously linked to guesstimates that about 30% of the cars in NYC are SUVs -- doesn't "cost" too much even though gas is $3.00-4.00 per gallon. Almost any city budget can accommodate a new baseball stadium, lobbying groups spare no cost in attaining 30 second spots promoting their measures, and politicians spare no cost at getting elected.

But it seems like venturing down a dark path to suggest that a certifiably honest and accurate voting system costs too much. Doesn't this cheapen our vote, or even suggest perhaps, with twisted logic, that our votes can be bought?


Acronym Required posts regularly on government spending dilemmas, especially with regard to the federal role in oversight (for instance with health issues), and less frequently public infrastructure.

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