Wednesday, November 17, 2004

When Non-Techs Try Talking Tech...

Today, the good folks at the Howler rightly chide one Anne Applebaum for a column in the Washington Post wherein she claims people who are skeptical about computer voting machines are paranoid conspiracy theorists. The Howler makes a few very salient general points. However, there are a few technical things they missed, and they are very important.

As the Howler pointed out, we trust banking software because it's verifiable externally(paper trails). However, the banking vs voting comparison is apples and oranges. It's not the conceptual similarities that matter(I use a computer to do task A so I should also use a computer to do task B), it's the aspects of construction that should be compared.

Diebold's software was demonstrably faulty. The fact that Bank Of America may not have faulty ATM software does not change this fact. In Anne Applebaum's world, driving a Pinto is just as safe as driving a Volvo. They're both cars after all.

This woman has a platform from which to speak? ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?

Update: And as if that weren't enough, dull as dirt topics like adequate training crop up too. Of course, reasonable people know better than to criticize something so perfect as our electoral system. But those pesky software engineering types just won't let us get on with our important lives without bringing this kind of thing up. It'd be so nice if they'd just shut up and let me get back to praising someone I don't really know anything about.

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