Double-check

Money drawer from a cash register.

For my first jobs, I used a cash register. I took money for hamburgers, music on vinyl, women’s fashion and video game tokens. At the beginning of every shift I’d count my drawer to verify its contents. At the end of every shift, I’d count out against what I sold. And my boss would count the money too. Double-checking my work. We’d do this every shift because the money was the point. It was why were were at the store.

This week some security experts raised issues about potential vulnerabilities of electronic voting. People are calling for an audit of the results. Not because there is credible evidence of a hack, because there isn’t. But because it strengthens our system.

“Auditing ought to be a standard part of the election process,” says Ron Rivest, a cryptographer and computer science professor at MIT. “It ought to be a routine thing as much as a doctor washing his hands.” –from Wired

The votes are the entire point of an election. The votes decide who wins. Why wouldn’t an audit be part of the standard operating procedure? Frankly, I don’t believe that an audit will have an impact on the results of this election. But some states are using voting machines with outdated software. If nobody audits the results, it’s as if we just assumed my cash drawer was right every night. That’s a huge vulnerability.

Accountability and verification maintain the integrity of my cash drawer. It provides insight into possible leaks in the system–either poor training or poor honesty. Our electoral process should have the same validation. It can only strengthen our democracy by removing doubts. We need to have trust in our systems.

I think it was an old Republican president who said, “Trust but verify.” Let’s do that.

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