Believe: Ron Paul 2012
by: Annette M. Hall
In the early 1980s I worked at a Savings and Loan, we used computers to process loans and conduct bank transactions. All the work was processed through a Burroughs mainframe a huge computer, which could be accessed from multiple terminals.
The mainframe was so huge it was housed in its own room with a specially created anti-static environment for optimal performance. The men (the computer technical club consisted almost exclusively of men in those days) who were responsible for the machine were considered gods by office personnel. These technicians were honored by users because they alone knew the complex secrets behind those tiny screens, which held the heart beat of our business.
Today you would be hard-pressed to find a bank or other large to midsized financial operation that does not revolve around computer technology. Billions upon billions of transactions are handled daily by banks and credit unions worldwide, with barely a thought about it from their customers. We make deposits and withdrawals to our accounts, we use our home PCs (personal computers) to check account balances, make transfers, even to pay our bills.
The money that changes hands in this country alone is astronomical. It boggles the mind to think just how far we have come in only twenty or thirty short years.
Computers have become a staple in American life. Most families own at least one. It's not uncommon for a child to have his own, in fact many schools are providing laptops for their students in test programs. My own son has had his own computer since he was a year old. He takes it for granted, assuming they have always been a part of life.
Nevermind that had my first computer been half the system his is, I would have thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I will never forget my first computer. It was a Tandy TRS-80, with no hard-drive, anything I wanted to save, was saved on a cassette tape player. I had a 300 baud external modem that would allow me to dial-up computer bulletin boards. Back in those days Computer Shopper Magazine was a huge publication, which published BBS numbers in the middle section each month.
As just about everyone on the planet knows it is election time. I will never forget how excited I was to be able to vote for the first time. I felt it was an awesome responsiblity and a privilege to cast my ballot.
My first experience wasn't all that different from all those tests with #2 pencils in school. Just fill in the oval completely and don't make any other marks. Easy Peasy.
I must say my next opportunity to vote was more than a little intimidating when I walked into the booth and was faced with what seemed like hundreds of little levers. It was then that I first realized that different precincts used different voting systems. I managed to vote that year but it took considerably more time than my #2 pencil had.
Since the fiasco in Florida during the 2000 election, voters have learned more than they ever wanted to know about hanging chads and voting systems. Personally, I find it incomprehensible that Wall Street depends on computers for its trading, banks process billions, if not trillions of dollars through their computer systems daily, yet we are unable to build a trustworthy computer system for voting.
Heck we could use a system identical to ATM's, instead of issuing paper voter registration cards, issue plastic cards and pin numbers. Voters could be provided with a transaction number and a receipt, the votes could be tallied in a matter of minutes.
One has to wonder if this solution isn't a plausible one, why not? And if not, should we be trusting our money to banks and are ATM's really safe?
This isn't brain surgery.
I've served as a poll-worker at my local precinct and can tell you that counting the votes by hand is not an exact science and mistakes are made. Let's face it, humans are fallible, we all make mistakes. Personally, I'd feel more comfortable trusting a computer to count my vote than I would precinct workers.
The problems we hear about are "back-doors", computer glitches and vote tampering. If we can't devise a program we can trust, how can our government justify the use of computers in managing the states payroll, unemployment and social security payments? All of which have been managed by computers for many years.
The fact that our votes are still being cast and counted by hand, should give the citizens in this country plenty of cause for pause.
Update October 7, 2011