As everyone knows, this week saw a major election in the US. Talking to various folks, it seems everyone’s amazed that in so many states, we’re still using paper, fill-in-the-bubble ballots. We know some places do use electronic voting machines, but then you hear all about the myriad of irregularities and other issues that deem those solutions not good enough. You’ve probably seen the viral video about the improperly-calibrated touch-screen machine in Pennsylvania. Here’s an article about it with the video. Of course people are going to shy away from technology that is really flawed, even if the problems stem from human error or neglect. According to this article, “just 25 percent of the country will use paperless systems this year—down from 40 percent in 2006”.
But why can’t we, in this day an age, design a product that would make this whole process more reliable? Something that won’t fluster voters with the input, keeps an auditable trail and is super robust. One article suggests that cost is the main reason, but that’s just one of the many design variables that we deal with on all of our projects on a daily basis. I feel like applying some good old fashioned design process to the problem could certainly make some headway. If a few states or even the federal government got behind a project, I think there could be enough economy of scale to keep costs down and provide a superior product. I understand that since humans are involved at every step of the way, there is always the potential for error, and that part of the solution is proper training, maintenance and funding to do so. Even so, I hope in the near future we will see some advancement in voting technology and a reduction of irregularities, because then everyone wins on Election Day.