Perhaps the single most important influence on democracy in the last century has been technology, and the many technologies now available to us have, for the most part, greatly improved our quality of life.
The media, television and the Internet have all enhanced our democracy in the sense that no information is off-limits, and our citizens can now arm themselves with knowledge. This knowledge makes them more effective participants in our democratic institutions, if they so choose.
Ironically, some technologies today threaten one of our most basic forms of democracy, and for little reason.
New Diebold touch-screen voting machines have recently lead to even greater controversy. A group of researchers at Princeton have shown how easily one of the machines can be hacked, starting with the purchase of a mini-bar key easily obtainable on the Internet.
Opening the machine then gives access to the memory card, onto which a vote-stealing virus can quickly be downloaded. In fact, it was demonstrated that the machine could be easily hacked in less than one minute.
Furthermore, the study demonstrated that the software leaves no indication that votes were manipulated, making it much harder to track any interference.
This demonstration, and the ongoing controversy surrounding electronic voting machines, shows that technology should not always be welcomed, especially when so much is at stake. Many local governments have blindly spent millions on these and other Diebold voting machines that have failed to meet basic security expectations.
Not only was the purchase and use of these machines rushed, but it may have been unnecessary. Many argue that electronic voting prevents errors like those seen in the 2000 presidential election in Florida
Filed Under: Opinion