Thursday, October 23, 2008

Want something more Cloudy? Elections

Exercise in futility?

For the most part, talk about the benefits of cloud computing has centered on it's impact on IT departments - and on applications and their deployments in general but aside from web email, majority of the 'non- coding' population still have no idea how relevant the cloud can be whether they are connected to tech or not.

Here is a wild idea.

Does anyone think that an important matter say a national 'election' be something that can utilize the help of cloud computing? I'm not sure how different the systems are for each country but then I guess most of it rely on some form of software to ensure that each vote cast is correctly counted for a particular candidate. Or does it?

But what about countries that still employ a manual 'count and tally' system using chalkboard and loads of election tally sheets who are looking into modernizing the system to prevent election fraud particularly human tampering? What about the cost involved of setting up the IT infrastructure to justify the shift? Can the cloud be a viable option given how substantially cost-efficient it touts itself to be?

I know there will be more question than answers but can the cloud (amidst security and privacy issues) enter the equation and be utilized to making elections transparent for all and subject to checks and audits? Or is it a question of whether technology can really be impartial or are we under the spell of developers who know how to game the system?

How sure are you that your vote really counts?

Related post and sites:

University illustrates potential for vote hacking
Anti-BB Voting
Call for Transparent Elections (Philippines)

This post came up from hearing the talk about the move to change an archaic Philippine election count system during the well-attended PSIA meeting that was jointly-sponsored by PLDT and Morph Labs. Extremely happy that it wasn't just a geek-fest....