Nicholas Loyal

Ordinarily, I'm not one for posting more than once in a single day, but sometimes I just need to highlight egregious claims of stupidity.

As anyone who pays any attention to my ramblings knows, I'm a big proponent of election reform. Despite my fervor for the ideas that come with this, though, even I have to stop from time to time when I see a claim I know is just wrong.

The Suburban Journals has an article today titled "St. Louis County Voter System Tamper Proof," which, for me, is not so much a declaration of security as it is an invitation to try tampering with the system. Although the article goes into extensive detail about the bipartisan procedures that will be followed by election officials (Double-locked doors! Hoorah!) following next week's local elections, there is little in the text to make me believe that St. Louis' system (or any other system, for that matter) is fully "tamper-proof."

Allow me to elaborate with an anecdote: Early this February, during Missouri's presidential primary, I prepared to cast a ballot on one of St. Louis County's fine touch-screen voting machines. However, because I was in a bit of a hurry, I presumed I knew exactly what I was doing and pushed a button on the machine without listening to the entire set of instructions. This turned on the "Audio Assist" function of the hardware (which was useless, because none of the officials had headphones handy) and inadvertently froze the machine. After waiting for it to reboot, I was allowed to vote, but I left wondering what would've happened had I pushed the green button after I had already selected a candidate. Effectively, I could have tampered with the election results — for I am quite the criminal mastermind.

No election system is "tamper-proof." Anyone who says so is either ignorant of their system's flaws or riding so high on their own hubris that they fail to notice that rushed voters are pushing green buttons and throwing Dewey over Truman. This doesn't mean that some systems aren't more effective or secure than others, but no official should ever believe that an election will operate perfectly. After all, democracy isn't perfect, but ... well, that would just be stealing from Churchill.

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Nicholas Loyal