Technology has transformed democracy on many levels. It also exposes vulnerabilities in our political processes, ultimately impacting election results. A particular threat to the voting process is the machinery, polling locations infrastructure, and voter registration systems. Tech giant Microsoft (MSFT -0.62%) is actively creating software that could reduce voter machine tampering by making voting more modern and equitable. Whether out of habit, obligation or social pressure, voter interest is increasing, particularly among minorities, and marginalized communities are most impacted by voter fraud.
Why This Matters: Election season is an exciting time for most Americans, but this time of year also brings voter suppression by way of lost votes, missing records and in some cases, mass confusion. Perhaps this is why only 55.7% of Americans voted in the 2016 election. Voting machines are often compromised with little effort due to minimal governmental regulation. Also, it’s a bigger business than most realize, as they bring in $300 million in annual revenue.
Microsoft is actively creating software that could reduce voter machine tampering
Half of the U.S. votes are made on machines manufactured by ES&S, the largest manufacturer of voting machines in the country, claiming customers in 4,500 localities, 42 states and two U.S. territories. Known for their unscrupulous business practices, notably donating money to the very politicians who stand to gain from faulty voting systems, ES&S has managed to maintain control of its dominant market share. Since it often takes more than $1 million to get certified as a voting machine manufacturer, and ES&S routinely sues its competitors, innovative new businesses are unlikely to enter the ring.
Situational Awareness: The vitality of America’s democracy depends on the fairness and accuracy of America’s elections. Unreliable equipment and faulty balloting practices no doubt make long poll lines less tolerable, deterring certain communities from voting. The fundamental problems of inadequate voting machines have been largely ignored by U.S. mainstream media, which minimized the widespread failures of defective voting equipment during the recent election as having been caused by “glitches” and “gremlins.” When in fact, some voting processes are purposely flawed.
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