Third: Shakespeare’s plays, 500 years old, are still legible in contemporary manuscripts, and I suspect that if the ballots that elected George Washington to the presidency are archived somewhere, they’re still legible, as well. But where’s the ballot that I cast last week by dialing through a series of computer screens and pressing buttons?
Electronic balloting is faster and potentially more accurate, but its transparency and verifiability are questionable, leading some smaller countries, such as Sweden and Switzerland, to continue to use traceable, recountable, unhackable paper ballots.
The fact is, the integrity of the electronic ballot is beyond the capacity of the ordinary person or local election entity to verify. And your faith in our electronic electoral system might be shaken by Victoria Collier’s “How to Rig an Election,” which appears in the November edition of Harper’s Magazine. Collier argues with considerable credibility that the development of computerized voting technology and the outsourcing of elections to corporations have produced highly suspicious vote totals over the last few decades.
Nothing is more important to democracies than elections. Ours need attention. Let’s get started. The race for 2016 begins at any moment.
John M. Crisp teaches in the English department at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas.