This is off-topic, since it is not about education. But, hey, it’s my blog and I am allowed now and then to think about other topics.

I just read in the New York Times that New York City is planning to ditch its new electronic voting machines and go back to using the old lever-operated machines, first invented in 1890. The city has already spent $95 million on the electronic machines, and some critics said that it was wrong to revert to the old technology. The old machines are apparently in a warehouse, covered in plastic.

The reason I mention this was that I served on a federal commission to review the electoral process after the fiasco of the disputed Presidential election in 2000. The commission was co-chaired by ex-Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. Our report was released in August 2001.

One of the subjects of our investigation was the voting machines: which were in use and which were most effective. We saw demonstrations of all the electronic machines, as well as some existing machines. The technical people said the best, most foolproof machine was the New York City lever machine, which many considered a dinosaur. It counted every vote and had a low error rate. The electronic machines were subject to hacking.

Ironic that the city is now planning –at least temporarily–to bring back the tried and true lever machines.