By CultureBanx Team
- Microsoft’s voting tech fix ElectionGuard tested in real election last month
- Marginalized communities are most impacted by voter fraud
At a time when big tech increasingly faces scrutiny for compromising democracy, rather than protecting it, Microsoft (MSFT +1.25%) wants to restore trust among voters with its EletionGuard software. It was first tested during an election last month in Fulton, Wisconsin as part of the company’s “Defending Democracy” project. It’s possible this new software could reduce voter machine tampering by making voting more modern and equitable for marginalized communities who are most impacted by voter fraud.
Why This Matters: Election season is an exciting time for most Americans, but this time of year also brings voter suppression by way of lost votes, missing records and in some cases, mass confusion. Perhaps this is why only 55.7% of Americans voted in the 2016 election, a 20-year low. Voting machines are often compromised with little effort due to minimal governmental regulation. Also, it’s a bigger business than most realize, as they bring in $300 million in annual revenue.
Only 55.7% of Americans voted in the 2016 election, a 20-year low
Foreign meddling in the American voting system has been top of mind for election officials, cybersecurity experts and many voters since Russia was found to have interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Last year, the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee released a report stating that Black voters were the single largest demographic target of Russian trolls in the 2016 presidential election.
Microsoft’s ElectionGuard’s fix entalis using paper ballots, voters make their selections on digital tablets. CNN reported the information is then loaded onto plastic cards outfitted with memory chips, and inserted into a card reader that saves the votes to a computer. Last but not least it’s then printed onto a paper copy to be placed in a ballot box. The system is not unhackable, in fact it’s designed to make it harder for hackers by immediately showing the system has obviously been tampered with.
It’s important to note the biggest problem is finding a way to secure the many parts of the election system, which can vary widely across the country. Fortunately, Microsoft’s software’s code is free and available to the public. The company said ElectionGuard will work with any voting system.
What’s Next: Microsoft hopes ElectionGuard will be widely adopted by the 2024 presidential election, even though they don’t expect it to be a major revenue driver for the company. They’re also fully aware it won’t be used during the election later this year.
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