Election night for candidates can be more nerve-wracking than bedtime for a virgin bride. During my last election, the voting machines broke down and the count continued by hand through the night. My celebration party wilted as we waited for unsteady reports from the precincts. The only good memory of the evening was that I won, but it was a roller coaster night.
Trump has speculated that vote counts may go awry in the 2016 election. Many believe him. A recent Pew Research Center report indicated that 11 percent of his supporters think their votes won’t be counted. (“Machine Error,” by Lauren Smiley, New Republic, November 2016, pg.11.) They suspect a left-wing conspiracy is afoot. More likely it will be the result of our antiquated systems which, I admit, can easily be hacked. (Ibid, pg. 8.)
According to writer Lauren Smiley, some machines are so old, the glue inside the touch-screen models can result in “vote flipping,” (Ibid pg. 10) meaning the voter selects one candidate but the machine credits another. Says one techie, our technology speeds ahead, upgrading and innovating constantly while our voting machines remain in the dark ages. Though it’s true Russian hackers planted malware in Arizona’s voter registration system and stole the personal data of 200,000 registered voters in Illinois, (Ibid pg. 10) experts insist we have more to fear from our antiquated machines than from foreign hackers. (Ibid pg. 11)
As we consider upgrading our systems, we should question whether or not they should remain in the hands of private corporations. Our equipment has fallen behind because companies resist the cost of upgrading. (Ibid pg. 10.) As Smiley suggests, going to an “open source” system would allow for continuous upgrades and make it possible for people to vote from cell phones, lap tops, tablets and scanners. (Ibid pg 10.)
Trump’s doubts about the integrity of the upcoming election may have some justification, but it won’t be due to a conspiracy. Nonetheless, election night promises to be a long one and we may not know the winner until votes are counted and recounted. Many of us who are old enough to remember the hanging chad incident of 2000 are bound to feel a twinge of nostalgia.