Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Power of Incentives -- Diebold Voting Machines Edition

Since the voting debacle in Florida, many counties have replaced paper ballots with electronic voting machines. Because these voting machines produce no tangible record of votes, some people worry that they are ripe for manipulation. Recently, a computer expert working for a non-profit discovered a flaw in the programming of the machines which would allow "someone with brief access to a voting machine and with knowledge of computer code to tamper with the machine's software, and even, potentially, to spread malicious code to other parts of the voting system."

The companies response:

"For there to be a problem here, you're basically assuming a premise where you have some evil and nefarious election officials who would sneak in and introduce a piece of software," he said. "I don't believe these evil elections people exist."

I agree with the company. No one has any incentive to try and steal an election. Why would anyone ever take the time to familiarize themselves with the computer code, get a position as an election official, and stick a USB drive into a voting machine they happen to be moving around? That's all so costly. What benefits could possibly outweigh these costs?

A lot of money paid by a candidate.
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