Yesterday, on July 4th, I took some time to reflect on nearly 400 years of elections in North America, in the hopes of having something meaningful to share in this blog, not about technology, but something fundamental. With little immediate success, I picked up a book, and re-read some email from a friend.
The book was 1776 by David McCullough, a book that includes first person accounts of people who fought for independency in 1776 — for me, a moving reminder of who did (and didn’t) care deeply about what would become our democracy, who fought and suffered, and in many cases died for the cause.
The email was from a journalist who recounted experiences in early post-aparteid South Africa, including the first elections under the new regime — elections that people fought and died for, which the voters were keenly aware of.
And then I looked at some of the latest news from Zimbabwe, a country in chaos where people are now dying because of the lack of free and fair elections — and indeed some of most egregious election fraud, barely even concealed.
Like many of the blessings we have in the U.S., we take elections — free and fair elections that deserve public confidence — for granted. Of course we shouldn’t, and I’ve been as guilty as anyone. But now, I am working on voting and on election technology, and if nothing else, that work is an homage to all those who did, and continue to, struggle and suffer for the right to vote, and (just as important) to vote and to believe — to believe that my vote counts, that all our votes count, and that election results truly represent the collective will.