Technology versus Democracy

Yesterday’s election was mostly a primary, but also included a few millage issues. The purpose of a primary is to keep the obvious maniacs from getting onto the final ballot, so I make the effort to vote. (Your definition of “obvious maniacs” probably differs from mine, but that’s okay.)

I’m waiting for verification, and am glad to see that they’ve finally replaced the big printed books with a laptop. But all of the verification people are standing around the laptop, getting more and more frustrated. One of them is on the phone. “Yes, we entered the password. No, it’s not letting us into the site. He’s entering it again. Yes, I’m sure the Caps Lock key is off. He’s trying again. Yes, the password we’re using is ‘election’.”

I’m third person in line. The line is growing quickly behind me. I peer at the laptop, lean in, and quietly say “Excuse me, but your Caps Lock light is on.”

The guy at the keyboard turns off Caps Lock, the password is entered, and the poll workers quickly get us all through. Everybody hails me as a technical genius. Which I might well be, if you define “genius” as “someone who looks to see WHICH LIGHTS ARE ON.”

I have three points to make on this seemingly pointless anecdote:

  • In discussions about electronic voting machines, remember: these are the people who have time and interest to work the polls. They have no awareness of good security practice. They don’t troubleshoot, because they don’t really know how to. It’s not a question of age: one of the people was a senior citizen, two were middle-aged, and one mid-twenties.
  • If you have time to volunteer as a poll worker, do so. Democracy isn’t about voting; it’s about doing things to help your community.
  • I am the savior of democracy. In Precinct Three, at least.
  • PS: I didn’t include the real password here, but the actual password was just as bad.

    3 comments to Technology versus Democracy

    • Patric

      Genius is always defined as “someone who looks to see Which Lights Are ON.” “Is there a link light for every cable plugged in?” “Does the num lock light toggle when you push it?” “Is the power light on?” “Are there any lights on it at all?” These questions have been the calling card of genuii for dozens of years.

    • Dan Langille

      Nice!

    • Mojo Jojo

      I vote absentee. I like to think I’m helping my community by NOT being there on election day. But now you’ve opened my eyes to how easy it can be to rig an election if I actually worked as a poll worker, given the overall IT clue of most poll workers. Thanks for the advice, Mr. Lucas! Moohaha! :)

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