Indian electronic voting machines

Keeping it simple

Jivha would have been interested in this. Eric Weiner asks what the United States can learn from India’s electronic voting machines.

So, might the Indian way work in the United States? Yes and no. The Indian machines are not designed to handle the large number of candidates that appear on a typical U.S. ballot, though this could be fixed without too much difficulty.

There’s another hurdle, what Carnegie Mellon professor Michael Shamos calls “technological chauvinism.”

“Except for Japanese cameras and German cars, we believe there’s nothing high-tech made outside the U.S. that’s worth importing,” he says. Certainly not from an impoverished nation like India. True, given the rise of the Indian software industry, that prejudice may be waning, but any American politician who suggested adopting Indian voting machines would probably be accused of outsourcing our democracy.

Also, the Indian machines are far from perfect. They don’t provide a “paper trail,” which some computer-voting experts consider essential. (Many American e-voting machines, too, fail to provide a paper trail.) The Indian machines malfunctioned at 1,800 voting booths (out of 1 million), and voters needed to cast their ballots again. There was still violence in the electronic election, though far less than in previous ones. [Slate]

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