10.0 on the Richter Scale…
All modern folk have become familiar with the Richter magnitude scale. It places in relative magnitudes the energy released in an earthquake. Using the scale allows for the estimate of anticipated damage to man made structures occurring within a specific region. Architectural and building styles play heavily into the predicted degree of destruction, however, there is a range on the scale where no quakes have yet to happen, and thus no meaningful damage estimate can be produced other than an expected unprecedented level of such…thus, it is the land of the unknown.
Such is the case with the modern voting integrity crisis. Initially in 2002, there was the infamous HAVA quake (Help America Vote Act), which registered about a 9.0, but was little noticed because of its uncharacteristic slow movement across the land. However, by November 2004 election its destructive effect was agonizingly clear. Basically, it revealed that Americas democracy had been rocked to its core.
Since then, a HAVA ripple effect has produced localized after shocks in voting jurisdictions from sea to shining sea. All across this nation there have been voting integrity quakes measuring the Richter equivalent of 7.0, which by referencing the Richter standard reveals that such shaking can produce heavy damage over large areas, such as an entire state.
The causes of these voting integrity quakes have at there epicenters the concept of voting via computer. In the jargon of the computer based voting machine manufacturers, these quake inducing devices are referred to as Direct Recording Electronic, or DRE’s.
The existence of DRE’s reveals how someone…many people actually, (all of them in positions of authority) have lost sight of the guiding star of voting transparency.
If you believe in the separation of powers, if you believe in checks and balance, then you must believe in voting transparency. Transparency is that process which permits for the average literate English speaking American voter to interact with the process from beginning to end, or at least it should. The problem with DRE’s is that they are not now, nor will they ever be compatible with voting transparency, nor will they ever induce voter confidence.
Transparency reveals in one fell swoop the degree of security, accuracy, traceability and authenticity of individual and groups of votes. Without transparency as the guiding star, the voting process ends up being one that is lost in plain sight while attempting to serve the lesser motivations of speed and perceived ease of use. The dismal performance of DRE’s has earned them the maxim; computers and voting transparency are forever contradictory terms.