8/14/2005

good election overview

(P) This and this are good rundowns on the statistical problems found in the last couple national elections. If you haven't been following the voting irregularities of the last five years, you're missing a really interesting story. Your local gas station pump gives you a detailed receipt, yet many of the electronic voting systems generate no auditable record whatsoever. Most of the time, you don't even know who you voted for. The rest of the industrialized world manages to actually, you know, count votes, exit polls are extremely reliable, then-Vice President Al Gore won the 2000 election, it appears that Senator Kerry won the 2004 election, although that is still up in the air, and there have been several questionable state elections.

If this were just Democrats whining, it really wouldn't be very interesting. George Bush is the President, and short of a resignation or impeachment, he will execute those duties accordingly until 2009.

What makes this interesting is that the new age of cheating at the ballot box--electronically--favors the kind of chaos that control-driven organizations, both political and corporate, detest and fear most. There is a ton of underemployed engineering and computer science talent out there, and the farther up the education ladder you go, the less tolerance for PR-driven corporate conservatism one finds. At the other end, the biggest threats to corporate and government computer networks haven't come from terrorists or the Russians; they've come from 13 year old kids. If people really can get away with meddling in elections, you know all sorts are going to want to leave their mark.

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