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Election Technology: Maddeningly 20th Century

Frank Ahrens

Today being election day, I am forced to wonder: Why cannot the United States come up with a voting system that's more reliable, easy-to-use and verifiable than the Iraqi blue-ink-on-the-finger method?

An Iraqi woman displays her ink-stained finger indicating she voted. (Majid Saeedi - Getty Images)

Here's yet another story in today's Post about worries the voting machines won't work. As late as last week, pollworkers were scrambling to get trained on machines.

Even though a federal law was passed in 2002 requiring the notoriously flawed punch-card (remember Hanging Chads?) and lever machines be phased out by today's election, they are still in use in some states.

Technology is amazing. We have biometric palm and retina scans for identification. Lexus has just rolled out a sedan that will parallel park itself. No kidding. Fast food drive-throughs now let you scan your credit card at the menu, removing precious seconds between you and your Big Buford burger.

Is it asking too much to come up with reliable, verifiable technology that will make it as easy and accurate to exercise our primary democratic right as it is to download a song for 99 cents?

Today In the Post:

* I wrote a piece about newspaper giant Gannett shaking up its newsrooms to pay more attention to readers and draw on readers's expertise when reporting stories. A new take on citizen journalism.


* So, you've got a job interview and you can't remember if those embarrassing pictures of you and that armadillo are still up on the Internet somewhere. Wired News writes about a startup, ReputationDefender , that -- for a fee -- will scour the Web and work on your behalf to remove embarrassing or potentially subpoenable activities you may have engaged in.

By Frank Ahrens  |  November 7, 2006; 11:02 AM ET  | Category:  Frank Ahrens
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Voting is different because it only happens every few months, or even years, so there's no economic incentive to have an up-to-date system.

Posted by: Squeegie | November 7, 2006 4:27 PM

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