Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2004 21:20:51 -0700
Reply-To: Attila Pavlath <attilapavlath**At_Symbol_Here**YAHOO.COM>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Attila Pavlath <attilapavlath**At_Symbol_Here**YAHOO.COM>
Subject: Electronic ballotting
Dear Neal,

I want to congratulate you for asking the members of
the Division  about their opinion concerning the
petition up for vote at Philadelphia. I wish more
councilors would do it so that their vote would be
more representative of the members they represent. Let
me add my views to the discussion. So far the
responses seems to favor the vote on the Internet, but
I have some reservation. Certainly I do not have a
problem with election in the Divisions and Local
Sections, but for national offices I think we should
be very careful. As we know in most Divisions and
Local Sections there is not a long line for the
various positions, frequently lots of arm-twistings
have to applied to put together a slate. This is not
the case for national offices. We have a large number
of interested candidates who would like to be
nominated, but the Nominating & Election Committee
frequently ignores them and therefore we have more and
more petition candidates. As you know in the Fall
election we five petition candidates for various Board
positions, a record number. This makes it very
important that the election is run under conditions
which are beyond any doubts. In the newspaper we
frequently read about errors in voting machines. I
rather face the possibility that some loose or
indented chad might not be easily counted, but I am
more concerned that a computer error accidentally adds
the vote for Candidate A to the tally of Candidate B.
Also hacking is more and more often in the headlines.
While I doubt that a teenage hacker in Norway would be
interested in breaking into the ACS voting, but I am
uneasy about the possibility that someone could
acquire the services of an “expert” to alter the
election and no one would find it out. In our present
system the paper ballots are kept for 30 days  to make
a recount if needed. Finally I am also concerned that
the electronic voting will discourage some people to
vote, especially if they are not a regular Internet
surfer. If we will have the opportunity for paper and
electronic ballot probably one has to declare which
way is the preferred one. What happens if the e-mail
address is changed? Or if C&EN would list a webpage
address to vote,  it would be much more easy for
someone to forget about voting. Overall I doubt that
it would improve voting. Perhaps the first step should
be to run tests for Divisional and Local Section
elections and see the problem and whether it improves
Presently we have six weeks for someone to use a paper
ballot which can be a continuous reminder to vote. In
my younger age I lived in a country where people
revolted against meaningless elections and were
willing to die for it. No one knows really the value
of a free election, unless there was a time when you
were denied the right to it. What we should do to
conduct a campaign to persuade people to use their
privilege. Making it available will not promote more
interest in national election.
I just sent out a letter to voting councilors
discussing the importance of the election. I hope we
are not going to rush into this without carefully
evaluating the problems.
Thanks again for taking the initiative and discussing
it with the members of our Division.
With best regards

Attila E. Pavlath
ACS President 2001

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