Rock The Vote.

Earl and I did our American duty today and voted in the local primary elections. Thankfully, we had the luxury of using the tried and true mechanical voting machines that many are familiar with and many more miss.

I am gadget freak. I love computers. I think technology can do wonders for one’s life.

Electronic voting machines are a bad thing. A very bad thing.

First of all, many if not most voting machines are made by the Diebold company. They are what we call “closed source”. Closed source software means the software is proprietary. Somewhere there’s a group of programmers putting together any given software program. Only these programmers know the inner workings of the program. They’re the only ones that know how the software works and in some instances, how the software breaks. Another example of “closed source” software is just about anything made by Microsoft (Windows, Office, etc.)

The opposite of “closed source” software is “open source” software. The often mentioned operating systems built around Linux are open source. Anyone can see the programming code that makes up that particular piece of software. The kernel, or foundation of Mac OS X, is open source. Anyone can see what makes open source software tick. There can’t be anything hidden or detrimental in the code because it’s available to anyone. In theory, a closed source based voting machine could be programmed to jimmy votes in any given direction based on some random input on a touchscreen. (For example, a programmer could code the program so that if a voter touches spots 1, 18, 73, 24 and 91 in that order within five seconds, move 10% of any non-republican votes to the republican column). That couldn’t happen with open source software because someone would see the code required for that sequence to work.

Another concern with electronic voting machines is the fear factor. There are people in the world that are afraid to use a computer. They don’t use the ATM. They don’t check themselves out at the grocery store. They don’t even have a touch-tone phone. They don’t like electronic gadgets. To force someone leery of technology to use a computer based voting machine is wrong.

And my last problem with many electronic voting machines is the lack of a paper trail. There’s no way to confirm the voting machine tallied the correct number of votes in the proper column. Should the machine fail, there’s a chance that it could take the day’s counts right with it. With a mechanical system, if the voting machine locks up it’s not going to reset the counters. It just “locks up” or freezes (remember when the old cash registers at the grocery and department stores would occasionally do that?).

So when you vote in the mid-term elections in November and are faced with an electronic voting machine, ask if there’s a paper based alternative for you to use. Express your concern with electronic voting machines. If there’s no alternative for you, then do the right thing and still vote.

Always vote. It’s your right as an American. And we’ll all hope your vote is counted properly.