The voting machines controversy, what it teaches us about government and technology

How did the reputation of the voting machines go from perfect solution to conspiracy theory? This is a story that needs to be told so that we can understand all the elements of this public relations disaster.

I want to write a book about the public relations of the voting machine controversy and I am using Kickstarter to raise money. Kickstarter is a crowdsourcing site.

My book will deal only with the PR aspect, not the technical. The article I wrote for The Daily Dog will give you a sense of my approach.

This is NOT just an American story. One of the interesting aspects of this story is the way stories in the European press were picked up by American activists and were linked on American blogs. Controversies about the use on machines in European elections found their way to US based discussion forums such as Slashdot.

The way this works is I have an alloted time to raise the $30,000 it will take to write this book. Funders will make pledges, if the money is not raised no one pays. But I am taking the optimistic view that when the money is raised everyone will pay what they pledged.

This is a unique story in the history of technology PR and I think telling it will have many lessons for future such controversies.

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Profile Photo Richard Fahey

I think this is an important story to cover. The recent decision in Ireland to scrap e-voting machines is a lesson in how technology is not the answer to all the ‘inefficiencies’ in government. It seemed the technology was introduced without there being a wide-spread problem. Rather there was an assumed image problem. At the time, the use of a pencil and paper to vote was considered backward, and those in government believed the country was being castigated for it’s use of traditional methods of voting. It now seems we’re going back to the future. Whatever you say about the inefficiencies of pen and paper at least it is reliable, trustworthy and independently auditable.

Profile Photo Matthew W

Richard is absolutely correct… as an auditor, I’m concered about the lack of an, well, audit trail here… a compromise could be to give the voter “a receipt” for who they voted for… kind of like a customer gets a receipt when he/she purchases a Diet Mountain Dew (my favorite drink) at the grocery store… this kind of defeats thie purpose of electronic voting, but it also gives us assurances that there are controls protecting the voting system.

Profile Photo Alice Marshall

There are so many important questions to be answered, and lessons to be learned for government contractors and civil service acquisition, that is why I hope readers will be willing to pledge $30 to permit me to write this important book.

Profile Photo Allen Sheaprd

Richard, Matthew – good points. First there was no problem. Second it had “knee jerk” feel from day one due to the ‘Hangging Chad” controversy.
Alice, IMO the biggest problem was there where better ideas. I would prefer a ballot that I could put in a touch screen machine, mark it. Then remove the ballot and either take it to be stored or read by another machine where I could privatly confirm whats on the ballot. After which the ballot could either be saved or traded in for a blank one.
I know ballots take up room, lots of room. I know its expensive. Voting should be done right and it can not be done over.
Alice, I hope you write you book. I also hope we go back to paper.
Allen