Title: Fixing the Vote, the Better Elections through Technology
Author(s): Douglas T. Anderson
Affiliation: Virginia Tech
Presented At: STiS 2008
Primary Topic Area: Technology Assessment
My presentation looks at the rush to reform the American electoral system resulting from the very public, apparent failure of the 2000 Presidential Election. Instead of addressing electoral process itself or any social impact of technologies used in the electoral process, the current direction of reform concentrates on the implementation of new technology, ranging from automated statewide voter registration systems to Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems in the polling place with minimum attention paid to the effect of that technology on the system, voters, or ability to correct the perceived problems in the electoral process.
Initially I look at what technologies constitute the elements of an election from a historical aspect. Then I examine elections in other Western Democratic countries, and the “state of the art” pre-HAVA and finally at the reforms already begun in several US States. I examine several aspects of potential failure for the Act and future elections, during these examinations I investigate how the technology imparts advantages and disadvantages to particular demographic groups participating in the voting process.
Finally I look at some future potential voting systems and speculate on some of the potential benefits and drawbacks of each.
I conclude that while reform is needed, the end desired result, a perfect election, cannot be reached by the reforms being mandated and in fact, due to the manner in which those reforms are mandated, may be made less likely.