Friday, November 17, 2006

Hacking democracy film - US election voting machines -lessons for the UK?

I attended the e-Democracy 2006 conference in London yesterday - I did attempt to make my first ever live conference post to my blog- my wifi worked but sadly my battery did not! The conference proved to a very interesting and enjoyable day - also very refreshing not to have any PowerPoints used and let open speaking and discussion prevail.

One of the highlights of the day was the first ever screening of the film "Hacking Democracy" (from HBO films) - this film has been creating quite a stir in the US as it was shown just before the US mid terms. I found the film a pretty chilling insight into the risks of electronic voting. The film follows an activist from Seattle who tries to unravel the secrets behind the voting machines used in the US that are controlled by major corporations, even election officials are not allowed access to the code. The film does contain suggestions of possible election fraud, whilst not uncovering evidence of fraud, the film proves how unsecure the systems are and the links between the corporations producing the machines and the Republican party. One interesting aspect of the film was the activists' use of the state level FOI laws in trying to access information relating ballots and machines used - the film suggested this had some success but didn't clearly focus on the outcomes of the requests.

View a snippet from Youtube below. Apparently there isn't a UK TV deal for the film yet - if you want to see it - why not contact BBC or channel 4?

The activists' site: black box voting is still available.

It is worth noting that the e-voting issue is still on the agenda here in the UK - the DCA are inviting expressions of interest from English local authorities seeking to run electoral modernisation pilots at the May 2007 local elections. Also see this posting on Jason Kitcat's blog he points out that "the Electoral Commission's own figures for the 2003 pilots showed that e-voting had no significant impact on turnout."

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