It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. -StalinDoes anybody know or care that Mitt Romney's tough-talking kid owns a substantial share of the voting machines that will count the votes in at least six states?
I'm going to take this from the broadest level -- the one that says having computers count votes is dumb in itself -- and taper down to the point, which is that nobody should be able to own the machines that count the votes, let alone one of the candidates' sons.
I am a technologist. It's what I do. It's what I love. It's how I earn a large chunk of the very comfortable living I am so fortunate and grateful to make.
And I think computerized vote counters suck.
We don't need a computer to do this. Computers are great at doing complex calculations over and over again. That's all the video on your tablet is: a series of complex calculations happening very fast. That's all a computing device does -- compute -- and it does it very well.
Counting votes is not high math. It doesn't need to be done in a microsecond or repeated millions of times. As a programmer, I know how easily one line of code can radically change the output of a program, how code becomes buggy, and I know that human beings can do some things better than computers. Did you know that there is an app to match your socks? Tell me that's not stupid, but at least it's not hurting anybody.
Having a machine count votes is asking for trouble, especially since the source code that runs these machines is proprietary and secret. Nobody should own this code. It should be subject to intense scrutiny either by (preferably) the large community of programmers or by some bipartisan public commission charged with auditing it and making sure no shenanigans are going on. We need to demand an audit of this code! I can't stress that enough.
Most of my colleagues could write a basic voting and vote tallying program on their lunch breaks, and I'm not exaggerating. What's the big secret here? You've got a couple of buttons and one database table tallying the results, maybe two or three tables if you want to keep a record of how each individual voter voted (which would -- I hope -- violate privacy laws, but I'm not a lawyer...). What is the big secret here? Why can't we see the damn code?!?
OK so you have this secret code counting votes, and it's owned by private companies. Sound like a recipe for disaster to you? Now let one of the candidates' sons buy the company that owns the code. It's absurd. Even if it were tinfoil hattery to say that Willard's kid bought the machines in six states (which, unfortunately, it is not), how have we gotten to a point where this is even possible?
It boils down to three points:
- Letting machines tally votes is stupid in itself
- If we must do it this way, we should at least be able to confirm that the machines are doing what we are told they are doing.
- Nobody should be able to privately own these machines as they are performing a critical public function which is inherently prone to corruption by private self-interest
How fucking stupid have we become to allow this? This is an outrage! Why does nobody care? Why does the media not report this? (Those are rhetorical questions.)