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Archive for February, 2007

Brave New Ballot

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Hon. John Suchandso
Secretary of State
123 Fake Street
Anytown, AA 12345

February 26, 2007

Dear Mr. Secretary Suchandso,

My name is Anthony Danielsen, and I write to you as a United States citizen deeply concerned about the integrity of our voting system. I am not affiliated with any organization.

Enclosed with this letter is a copy of Brave New Ballot, by Dr. Aviel Rubin. Dr. Rubin is a Professor of Computer Science and Technical Director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University. I have provided his book to you and to each of your counterpart Secretaries of State because I found it to be a thorough, accessible resource detailing the issues surrounding electronic voting systems. I hope that you find it useful.

I served as an election officer in Henrico County, Virginia for the 2006 midterm election. It was a highly worthwhile experience that I look forward to repeating. My fellow volunteers were experienced and dedicated, and procedurally the day ran flawlessly. I was prepared for the unfortunate reality that without a paper audit trail we could not objectively prove that our precinct’s results were valid. What I was unprepared for was the meaningful percentage of voters who had serious difficulties navigating the touch screen ballots. Those who assume that familiarity with the graphical user interface is ubiquitous do a huge disservice to these voters.

I believe that we need to take a big step back and restate the problems that we were we trying to solve, then assess how well electronic voting machines actually solve them.

Our voting system should be a point of national pride, trusted and understood by all citizens, and used as the gold standard worldwide. It is far too precious a thing to entrust to proprietary black boxes produced by the private sector, whose interest in secure and accurate elections is at best secondary.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully yours,

Anthony Danielsen


Thursday, February 15th, 2007

With the clown car of contenders for the 2008 presidential election emptying into the center ring, I’m keeping an ear out for how well each candidate pronounces “nuclear.” While its correct pronunciation will not be enough to secure my vote (there is still hair to consider, after all), I would be willing to turn a blind eye to a great deal from a candidate who plants that word on the mat ten times out of ten.

Candidate: My baby mulching program will break the cycle of poverty while simultaneously bolstering agriculture and our transition to biofuels, reducing our dependence on environmentally irresponsible energy sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Me: W00t! He said “nuclear!”

Am I setting the bar too goddamn high?

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