The use of electronics to administer elections has been controversial for some time. Since the "hanging chads" of the 2000 election, there's been some degree of public awareness of the use of technology for voting and its possible impacts on the accuracy and integrity of the election. The exact nature of the controversy has been through several generations, though, reflecting both changes in election technology and changes in the political climate.
Voting is a topic of great interest to me. The administration of elections is critical to a functioning democracy, and raises a variety of interesting security and practical challenges. In particular, the introduction of automation into elections presents great opportunity for cost savings and faster reporting, but also a greater risk of intentional and accidental interference in the voting process. Back when I was in school, I focused some of my research on election administration. Today, I continue to research the topic, and have added the practical experience of being a poll worker in two states and for many elections .
Given my general propensity to have opinions, it will come as no surprise that this has all left me with strong opinions on the role of computer technology in election administration. But before we get to any of that, I want to talk a bit about the facts of the matter.