The Sciences

Voting in America, Redux: You Can't Vote Here, But You Can Vote in Space

Reality BaseBy Melissa LafskyOct 28, 2008 9:10 PM

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One week left 'til Election Day 2008, and voter turnout is expected to obliterate records. Of course, whether those record numbers of voters turn into record numbers of counted votes remains to be seen. In addition to the smorgasbord of disasters that could befall your vote before it gets tallied, the first hurdle will be voter registration, creating a gatekeeper you'll have to pass just to get in the door. Chances are, your voter registration information has been entered into a computer database run by your state. And chances also are that it's been entered wrong—no, seriously, it has. As a result of all this error and confusion, just about everyone is worried that legions of voters could be turned away at the polls. Even the Association for Computing Machinery is getting in the act, stating the following in press release:

Experts from ACM’s U.S. Public Policy Committee (USACM) will be monitoring and analyzing the reliability of registration records and voting equipment around the nation as Election Day approaches. ACM’s report on VRDs [voter registration databases] includes 99 high-level recommendations to help states establish best practices for computerized statewide electronic databases...For example, the ACM report recommends that when driver registration databases are used for eligibility checks, they should apply only to screening voters, not to automatically enrolling or de-enrolling them.

Yes, great idea! Call us when it's implemented in 2012. Of course, in the irony of all ironies, NASA is making sure that any Americans currently in orbit are able to vote from space, courtesy of a secure electronic ballot uplinked by the Johnson Space Center. This year, two men aboard the International Space Station plan to cast their ballots from 220 miles above the Earth. Let's just hope they've been reading the news. Related: RB: Voting in America: Let the Pre-Game Mess Begin! RB: Lose Your House, Lose Your Vote, Lose Your Self-Esteem RB: Advocacy Group May Have Registered Phony “Voters.” But Does It Matter? RB: Be Very Afraid: Online Voting Systems Fail Even for Political Bloggers

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