The Crusade of Farhad Manjoo
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By etrigan - Last updated: Monday, September 29, 2003 - Save & Share - 3 Comments

I think every article I have seen about electronic voting at Salon.com has been by Farhad Manjoo. The man really seems to have it out for electronic voting. With “Another case of electronic vote-tampering?”:http://archive.salon.com/tech/feature/2003/09/29/voting_machine_standards/index.html (9/29/2003), “Voting into the void”:http://archive.salon.com/tech/feature/2002/11/05/voting_machines/ (11/5/2002), “An open invitation to election fraud”:http://archive.salon.com/tech/feature/2003/09/23/bev_harris/ (9/23/2003), and “Hacking democracy”:http://archive.salon.com/tech/feature/2003/02/20/voting_machines/ (2/20/2003) Farhad has made his stance clear. What is dissapointing about this is that Salon.com, following in the steps of nearly every news outlet, is only presenting this viewpoint clearly leaving the opposition relegated to the letters column.

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3 Responses to “The Crusade of Farhad Manjoo”

Comment from KellyMc
Time September 29, 2003 at 2:16 pm

Well, I don’t read Salon for fair and balanced reporting. I read it to enflame and coddle my liberal sensibilities. And man, that story on Diebold the other day was pretty scary. What’s wrong with black and white fava beans again?

Comment from jank
Time September 29, 2003 at 3:01 pm

Or pencil and paper ballots?

Hell, even I wanted parts of Diebold’s collective ass after reading that story. I don’t think that the backlash against e-voting is necessarily a left/right issue. Regardless of which side of the fence one’s on, the idea that we’re using a system to count votes that depends on someone’s use and interpretation of technology is IMO a violation of civil rights.

Fava beans/paper ballots/etc have the advantage that ANYONE with an interest in overseeing elections can sit at the polls, watch ballots/beans go into a box, follow the box to make sure that it’s not tampered with, watch and verify vote counts, have a record that’s not dependent on magnetism and/or the electricity staying on, and is comprehensible to anyone with a first grade education.

E-voting provides rapid results for the upper-crust types who are waiting to spin elections, provides preference to those who are tech educated WRT who runs elections, puts another barrier up to folks who may not feel comfortable voting with electronics, opens up the system to more mistrust, etc.

I’m open to hearing more about advantages to e-voting, and why the trust issue is a non-issue, but haven’t. When Salon and National Review both repeatedly take the same stance on an issue, there’s probably a good, non-spin, reason why.

Comment from etrigan
Time September 29, 2003 at 4:12 pm

The b/w fava beans are valid until someone finds a way to genetically engineer fava beans that appear white until locked in a dark box wherein they turn black. Paper ballots can only be checked by literate people.

Technology moves forward and while it does it will develop ways to cheat any system. However it also prevents a majority of the population from tampering with the results. Are tech-heads untrustworthy or more untrustworthy than any other culture? Are they more or less likely to identify with one political party or another?

Are hanging chads preferrable to Diebold’s issues? Punchcard ballots favor people with good arm strength (which may explain why it was an issue in Florida) and I don’t trust anyone who feels the need to workout.

I will find the article, but I read that the issues in CA about e-voting were all addressed by the manufacturer before the systems were delivered. It is not hard to encrypt an Access db, so I am sure that will be fixed quickly in the systems Farhad is concerned with.

One of the benefits of electronis voting is that the system can be quickly and easily upgraded while still remaining backwards compatible.

Ultimately, they are all equally secure/insecure/reliable/unreliable systems and the progress we’re making will simply improve the counting process. No more questions over whether a hanging chad counts as a vote or problems where morons select multiple candidates on the same ballot.

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