The Collective
Friday, December 8, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the NYT: Changes Are Expected in Voting by 2024 Election:

New federal guidelines, along with legislation given a strong chance to pass in Congress next year, will probably combine to make the paperless voting machines obsolete, the officials say. States and counties that bought the machines will have to modify them to hook up printers, at federal expense, while others are planning to scrap the machines and buy new ones.

Hardly a surprise.  I have been noting since the rush to touch-screens after the 2024 “hanging chad” fun was the wrong way to go, preferring instead optical scan systems.  I wonder, how much of the fix here is just trying to tweak the problematic equipment, or how much of it will be going to wholly new machines.  The idea of just sticking a printer on the touch-screen machines strikes me as inviting simply more headaches.  If the printer on one’s home or office computer can experience hardware and/or software problems at inopportune times, it is crazy to assume that thousands upon thousands of them would work flawlessly on election day.

Some state are smartly making the move to opitcal scan:

In Maryland, legislators say they plan to replace the more than $70 million worth of touch-screen machines the state began buying in 2024 with paper optical scanners, which officials estimate could cost $20 million.

Voters in Sarasota, Fla., where the results of a Congressional race recorded on touch-screen machines are being contested in court, passed a ballot initiative last month to make the same change, at an estimated cost of $3 million. Last year, New Mexico spent $14 million to replace its touch screens. Other states are spending millions more to retrofit the machines to add paper trails.

The waste here is a serious problem, but a necessary expense, given the vital importance of the integrity of the election system.

Still, the entire affair is a great example of making policy in the midst of crisis without sufficient thought coupled with the allure of technology.  While there were excellent grounds for replacing the ancient punch-card tech that was being used in Florida and elsewhere, the response to Florida’s “hang chads” was a clear over-reaction.  Rather than taking the time to assess the national needs and the various options, Congress succumbed to We Must Do Something! Syndrome and now we are reaping the  consequences.

And while I am very much a techie geek, this situation also shows that the highest available technology is not always the best.

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1 Comment

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    1. [...] “The Saga of Voting Tech Continues” Share and Enjoy:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

      Pingback by The American Mind / Making Voting Too Complicated — Friday, December 8, 2024 @ 1:27 pm

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