Week in Review

A referendum on e-voting?

Buzz of the Week
In the weeks leading up to Election Day, political pundits have talked endlessly about whether the Democrats will take control of the House and possibly the Senate and what that would mean. What they haven’t talked about is electronic voting and the impact that technology could have on this and future elections.

The interest in party politics is understandable. But many computer experts are frustrated by the apparent lack of concern about possible system breakdowns or security breaches that could compromise election results.

Some skeptics are most concerned about fraud, given the numerous reports and rumors about potential security flaws in e-voting systems. They worry that someone could alter voting data in ways that no one would detect. At the very least, e-voting systems should have paper audit trails, they argue — to no avail.

But most skeptics are focused on the potential for human error. They believe the technology introduces another level of complexity that voting officials and their volunteers simply are not ready to handle. That led to problems in several places nationwide during the spring primaries.

Those bugs made headlines at the time but have done little to dissuade most districts from pushing ahead with the technology for national elections, much to the dismay of the skeptics. They wonder how voting officials can be so blasé when the dangers are so well-known and the stakes so high.

This week’s elections could become a referendum on e-voting. If they go smoothly, with only the occasional hiccup, the skeptics will lose credibility, at least for another two years. But everything changes if problems arise that cast doubt on election results, especially if it happens in a tight race. If that’s the case, e-voting could lose in a landslide.

Other Noteworthy News

The Air Force said it plans to establish a new command to bring full-scale military operations to cyberspace.... The Clinical Data Repository, which holds the medical records of 8.6 million active-duty and retired service members and their families, went down Nov. 1 and was temporarily inaccessible to Defense Department clinicians.... The Industry Advisory Council feted the graduating Partners Program class of 2006 during the American Council for Technology/IAC Executive Leadership Conference.... The Professional Services Council released a report showing that federal acquisition professionals are worried about whether they have the resources they need to do their jobs.... The General Services Administration announced it would not pursue the option years in its Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 contract with BearingPoint.... DOD's chief information officer, John Grimes, hired Dave Wennergren, the Navy Department's CIO, to be his deputy.... Arrowhead Global Solutions, an integrator that graduated from its small-business status three years ago, edged out established telephone carriers when the Defense Information Systems Agency awarded it part of a $3 billion contract for network circuits.... The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that retired Maj. Gen. Bob Howard had been sworn in as assistant secretary for information and technology.... The National Vulnerability Database is on track to receive 25 million hits a year, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which created the Web-accessible database....Renato DiPentima, chief executive officer of SRA International, received ACT/IAC's Janice K. Mendenhall Spirit of Leadership Award.... DISA said it intends to use a leasing arrangement to acquire commercial satellite communications services for the Navy.... Market research firm Eagle Eye Publishers sided with the Small Business Administration in a dispute with the American Small Business League over the amount of federal contracting dollars awarded to small businesses.... An advisory committee approved minimum functional requirements for a nationwide health information network.... At the Serious Games Summit, a government panel discussed how user-generated content could enhance warfighter training.

A roundup of the week's news, complete with links to the original stories, can be found on FCW.com Download's Week in Review.




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