Purdue Alumnus FA20 web - Flipbook - Page 42
Still a Thing of
For most Americans, online voting remains
as much a part of the future as a personal aircraft in the style of The Jetsons.
“Coming up with electronic mechanisms to
vote, where we know the votes are correct from
beginning to end, there’s just nothing available,” says Gene Spafford, professor of computer science and executive director emeritus
of the Center for Education and Research in
Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS).
Spafford unpacks three of the main issues
associated with online voting — and offers his
bottom line on concerns about the integrity of
the United States’s electoral system.
There are ways right now that it’s conceivable we could do it. We have very, very secure
networks and systems that are used in
national defense, in controlled nuclear power
plants, and so on. But the expense would be so
large that no one would be willing to pay for it.
It would be tens or hundreds of thousands of
dollars per consumer to try to build that into
your cell phone.
The important result at the end of the vote
is when the totals are announced, the loser
and all their supporters need to look at the
counts and say, “Oh, that’s fair. We just didn’t
get enough votes.” The winner’s always going
to say, “The results are great.” There must be
confidence in the accuracy and credibility of
the voting process.
There are many documented cases where
voting machines have counted votes to the
wrong candidates or failed to count votes.
When it’s all electronic, there’s no way to audit
because it’s all in the computer chip or the
computer memory. You have no way of verifying that the votes were counted correctly.
The Bottom Line
40 PUR D U E A LUMNUS
Abigail Spanberger’s approach to politics is simple:
ask questions, get answers, create solutions.
When Abigail Spanberger (MS M’02) ran for Virginia’s seventh Congressional district in
2018, you probably wouldn’t have put money on her chances.
Republicans held the seat for nearly 40 years. Its election outcomes were predictable. If you
heard mention of it, it might have been in 2014 when Tea Party candidate Dave Brat upset Eric
Cantor, the number two Republican in Congress. Brat won two terms, first by 24 points in 2014 and
then by 15 points in 2016.
Spanberger’s campaign brought a different style of politics to the district. A Blue Dog Democrat
and member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus — featuring an equal number of Republicans and Democrats — Spanberger has been the target of progressives in her own party and was
one of a handful of Democrats to publicly oppose Nancy Pelosi’s leadership in the House. A former CIA case officer, this no-nonsense, solutions-driven focus was second nature for Spanberger.
“I worked in a very nonpartisan role,” says Spanberger. “You would fight and argue and talk
about how to achieve the mission and make sure that you’re thinking through every contingency,
but it was always with the goal of doing the best things for the country.”
And that’s where Spanberger’s time at Purdue comes in.
A highlight from her time at Purdue was one of her professors, Patrick Johanns.
“I was not naturally adept at quantitative methods and all the elements of statistical analysis,
but I really remember that class because I remember being struck at how much he would make
it really interesting and try to make it digestible, even though it was one of the hardest classes
I’ve ever taken.”
Today, Spanberger’s ability to work through hard, complex issues is part of what situates her
in the crossfire of Republicans and Democrats alike — and part of why she is eager to work with
both parties on creating a path forward.
“Given my background in intelligence, all you do is identify problems and ask, ‘What additional
questions do I need to ask, and what questions do I need to answer to fully understand the scope
of this problem?’ Perhaps it’s a little oversimplified, but at the end of the day, I thought, ‘There’s a
lot of problems that need to get fixed, and I want more people in Washington focused on fixing
problems than just pointing fingers at them.’ And that’s really what motivated me to run.”
O F F IC E O F R EP. A BI GA IL SPA N B E RG E R
If people are concerned there’s going to be
interference with the voting and don’t vote as a
result, that’s tragic. There is a minuscule number of problems with the systems we have now.
People should register and vote. The only way
to be sure that your vote doesn’t count is if you
don’t cast it.