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Saturday, September 25, 2004

category error

One of the problems with the idea of e-voting is a simple category error.
Our technocratic masters take the idea of e-Government, a lot of which makes great sense, and then add in voting as one of the "services" provided by government.

Voting is not a government service. Voting is the creation of the government by the citizens. It is fundamentally different from the other kinds of services that government provides.

The problem is, when e-voting is merged into e-everything e-else, that you then start applying the same thinking, pilot projects, client satisfaction, etc.

This simply does not make any sense. If I launch a pilot project for citizens to pay their property tax through my municipal e-portal, and it doesn't work the first day, I relaunch it a day or a week later. If it overcharges some people by 10x and undercharges others by 100x, I catch it in my auditing. I electronically shuffle money around.

You cannot have a voting system that doesn't work on the one day it is used.
You cannot have a voting system that dramatically miscounts votes.
You cannot shuffle votes around electronically. Err, well you must not shuffle votes around electronically, anyway.

Voting is in a fundamentally different category from financial services, or any other kind of service that the government provides. It is a different sort of thing. Completely different rules apply. Mashing it in with e-government makes no sense.

Lots of e-government stuff makes sense. Why do I have to fill in bloody paper forms for things? To do my annual charity payroll deduction, I have to, by hand, fill in a form with information that my employer already knows, followed by manually looking up on the web the 14 digit number of the charity I want to support, followed by writing it in and hoping I haven't transposed any digits, and that no errors will be made in the manual transcription process into the payroll system. For all I know, I will end up giving money to the Knights of Satan or something. It's ridiculous.

Making things like that all-electronic makes perfect sense.
Making voting electronic makes absolutely no sense.
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