Touch-screen, computerized ballots -- officially known as Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems -- are not a way station to a glorious, all-Internet future for American democracy. They're a technology cul-de-sac.
An election system should be accessible, simple, and efficient. But it must also be as secure, risk-free, and confidence-inducing as possible. Reacting to the Florida 2000 election debacle, Congress, through the Help America Vote Act, gave states nearly $3 billion to update their election systems. Great idea. But paper ballots generally -- chads or no -- were deemed suspect. The future of elections, we were told, lay in sophisticated software and user-friendly touchscreens.