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    Economic Thinking: It is easier to rig an electronic voting machine than a Las Vegas slot machine

    Studying economics has changed that the way I see many news items and public policy issues.

    Via digg:

    It's easier to rig an electronic voting machine than a Las Vegas slot machine, says University of Pennsylvania visiting professor Steve Freeman. That's because Vegas slots are better monitored and regulated than America's voting machines.

    read more

    This certainly appears to be a matter of responses to Incentives. The Owners of the Vegas Slot Machines will loose money if their slot machines are hackable so they will not choose Slot Machine products that are not hackable. Consumers will not play slots at places that rig their machines. Manufacturers of hackable/rig-able products will sell less. All three sides (consumer, retailer, manufacturer) respond to incentives in a way positive for everybody.

    In the political sphere, incentives also drive behavior, but they don't necessarily produce optimal results for society. These ideas come from an area of thinking called Public Choice Theory.

    The design of the Election Process including monitoring and voting machines, and vote tabulation could include safeguards to address this. Economic Incentives could be brought into play by have competitive sources for hardware and vote tabulation, bounties/fines against hardware producers for faults found (time possible votes effected). I am sure clever people could think of additional things in short order.

    Personally, I like my paper ballot that is human readable (and countable) and machine countable. It works just fine. Technology is not always the solution. It is hard for us geeks to remember that sometimes.

    2 Responses

    1. the casinos have more to lose.

    2. Yes they do. The comment came in while I was still updating the article. The downside of posting automatically from DIGG, is that I then need to quick modify the post and add my stuff to it.

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