Moonshots and Votes: Redux

A few readers wrote to me pointing out errors in my Wednesday posting. Just to clarify a few points:

1) The Defense Department has spent $30 million on research and implementation of an internet based voting system for overseas and armed services personnel. The actual cost of the system in 2006 was $836,000 for 63 voters, translating into $13,174 per vote.

2) The reasons that many local jurisdictions cannot use the web-based system is because state laws prohibit them from doing so.

3) My final line was poorly worded. What I meant to say was: ISN’T a flawed web-based system superior to the paper ballot system we have now?

One reader sent me an interesting query regarding experimentation and testing of voting systems. This, I think, is the most important issue regarding SERVE and other innovative voting systems. How do we test these systems? What is a reasonable cost? Is it possible to establish cost/benefit criteria on ballot integrity?

These are fundamentally political problems, but ones that can be easily demagogued. It’s an area where I think scholars have a lot to contribute, but somehow we need to move away from extreme positions–there is no “perfect” voting system, but surely we can improve on what we are doing now.