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Friday, June 21, 2013

1982 E-Voting Systems in Science Fiction

I was reading a science fiction book, “The Stainless Steel Rat for President”, by Harry Harrison [1], and came across a passage that I found interesting and, given that the book was written in 1982, surprising.

An opposition candidate has discovered that there was fraud in an election, which was conducted on computers. He quotes from the planet’s constitution [2]:

Due to the nature of electronic voting and due to the necessity of assuring that the voting is always recorded with utmost accuracy and due to the invisibility of the votes once they have been recorded in the voting machine, ...

I found that a remarkably perceptive, and also a very succinct, statement of a key problem with computerized voting systems. To me, that this statement was made in a book that appeared in 1982, makes it even more remarkable.

By the way, the passage goes on to say that if it is proven beyond doubt that the record of votes in a single voting machine is altered, then the election is null and void, and a new one must be conducted using paper and ballot boxes, and no subsequent election can use the computerized voting machines until the newly-elected President has them investigated.

References

  1. Harry Harrison, The Stainless Steel Rat for President, Bantam Books, New York, NY, USA (1982).
  2. ibid., p. 166

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