Politics eyes system design

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By John Bartlit

A new idea emerges from the nation’s ugly experience with the clumsy, costly websites to sign up for Obamacare. Critics offer their answer, “The sites should have been developed by experienced professionals in designing interactive operating systems.”
What went wrong and how government butchered the process are fuel for zealous debate. Yet the critics seed a new strain of idea into traditional politics.
I have a special name for technical ideas that are put to work in politics. My term is “politechnical” ideas.
Government has many operating systems to improve. One critical system stands above all others as the binding force of a working democracy: namely, the voting system. “Voting system” here refers to its interface with voters, not broader issues such as new forms of primaries or coalition governments.
The public forum built on talk shows carries on a national debate about voting fraud in distant states. The debate is vociferous, constant, and of talk-show quality, which means sketchy.
Access to voting begins with voter registration, voter ID, and voting times and places. In distant states, these parts of the system are continually being redesigned piecemeal by elected officials and legislators, who have a major interest in this or that party’s odds of winning elections.

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