New York Times: Elections “Still Broken” — Especially Registration

The recent New York Times editorial "Still Broken" is well worth the read, especially for its significant focus on dysfunction in the voter registration systems — something that often gets second billing to recollections of hanging chad and recent vote-dropping voting machine stories.

It’s important because excellent, transparent, accountable voting systems (if they existed) would still be an unpleasant joke if millions of people are still blocked from even casting a ballot, because of voter registration snafus. So reforms to voter registration technology are required too.

So all I wanted to add to the NYT editorial, especially regarding voter registration systems, is "we’re working on it" — that is, developing an open and operationally transparent voter registration system, guided by the state elections officials who must deploy and manage these systems. And with apologies to those who have heard it before, the "operationally transparent" part means that the voter registration system logs all of the activity in the system, and externalizes that information for public access. That way, members of the public can see exactly what the public servants are doing in the public’s information system that manages the access of the public to their ability to vote.

So while I can’t comment on the NYT editorial with a ringing "election technology reform … to the rescue!" with a straight face, I do think that we’ll all be helped substantially we we that proverbial sunlight is cast on voter registration systems. Then maybe folks can see the full extent and detail of real problems as they occur, rather than argue and bicker over anecdotal evidence of registration problems.


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