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Paper Mail Voting vs. Electronic Voting. Is there a better solution?

September 28th, 2012

As a voter, what makes you feel more secure? A physical, paper ballot system, where you check off your answers and see your choice go into a box, or an electronic system, where a count can be determined quickly and efficiently? With election season in full swing, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each voting system.

Convenience or reliability? These are the two sides of thought battling in the paper versus electronic debate.

Many college students and military personnel cast their votes via absentee ballots. In 2010 over 200,000 military ballots were not counted because the mail service could not get them to the voters in time or the ballots were not returned on time. Mail to remote locations can take almost three weeks to get back and forth. The extra time spent and deadlines are a cause for concern.

The other issue with paper ballots is simply the amount of ballots to count. There are over 7,800 electoral jurisdictions and numerous polling places within each. The popular vote takes much more time to announce when tallying the votes this way.

However, there is a downside to electronic voting as well. While convenient and easily accessible to millions (just think, it could be as easy as pressing a button on a smartphone app), security issues are a major concern. Hackers can easily get into any system changing the possible outcomes of an election.

In addition to hackers, software is known to malfunction. In March, votes were sent to the wrong candidate from faulty electronic voting machines in Palm Beach County, Fla. Sometimes votes just disappear. Technology, while helpful, is not always perfect.

Neither method provides us with the solutions needed to run a flawless election. However, using them both together may be our best bet. If you are one of the 25 states currently using electronic voting machines, make sure you have a paper ballot backup.  For those voters that we simply cannot reach in time, such as the military out to sea, or students studying abroad, give absentee voters an electronic option also with a paper backup. If our national voting system is replaced with all electronic machines, it will require round-the-clock monitoring for hackers, viruses and infiltrators. Private networks will have to be used to transmit election results.

Each system has its pros and cons, but if the system is restructured with a proper balance of the two, voting systems can prove more efficient and secure for everyone.

Can engineers develop a secure alternative system? Contact The Talley Group for the best positions in engineering.

MARKET WATCH: Energy prices regain lost ground in waffling markets

September 28th, 2012

Energy prices rebounded Sept. 27 in waffling markets. Some analysts believed the popup was from the number of bullish headlines hitting the tapes.

Chevron, Transocean get notice to halt operations in Brazil

September 28th, 2012

Chevron Corp. and drilling contractor Transocean Ltd. have each received injunctions giving them 30 days to stop operating in Brazil stemming from an oil seep in Frade field offshore Brazil during 2011.

US drilling rig count falls 11 units to 1,848

September 28th, 2012

The US drilling rig count fell 11 units during the week ended Sept. 28, with the total number of rotary rigs in the US reaching 1,848, reported Baker Hughes Inc. This compares with 1,990 rigs working in the comparable week last year.

Shell lets contracts for ultradeepwater drillships

September 28th, 2012

Royal Dutch Shell PLC let 10-year contracts to Transocean Ltd. for the construction of four newbuild dynamically positioned ultradeepwater drillships. Cost of the four rigs is an estimated $3 billion, excluding interest.

Correction to Concentration of Trichloroethylene in Breast Milk and Household Water from Nogales, Arizona

September 28th, 2012
Environmental Science & Technology
DOI: 10.1021/es303836r

Structure-Dependent Interactions between Alkali Feldspars and Organic Compounds: Implications for Reactions in Geologic Carbon Sequestration

September 28th, 2012

TOC Graphic

Environmental Science & Technology
DOI: 10.1021/es302324m

Hess completes Equus appraisal program off Western Australia

September 28th, 2012

Hess Corp. has completed its appraisal program on the Equus natural gas project offshore Western Australia and is calling for registrations of interest for major subsea and floating production system contracts.

API: EPA should move faster to solve RIN fraud problem

September 28th, 2012

The US Environmental Protection agency should move quickly to resolve problems with Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) used as biodiesel credits by yearend, an American Petroleum Institute official urged.

Probing the mysteries of cracks and stresses

September 28th, 2012
Diving into a pool from a few feet up allows you to enter the water smoothly and painlessly, but jumping from a bridge can lead to a fatal impact. The water is the same in each case, so why is the effect of hitting its surface so different? This seemingly basic question is at the heart of complex research by a team that studied how materials react to stresses, including impacts. The findings could ultimately help explain phenomena as varied as the breakdown of concrete under sudden stress and the effects of corrosion on various metal surfaces.
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