26 November 2014

Let’s make it official. The DRE is dead. DRE, of course, stands for “Direct Recording Electronic” voting machine. It also goes by the name of touchscreen voting machines. But whatever you call it, for all practical purposes, it is dead.

Consider the evidence. How many new DREs have been sold by vendors such as Diebold (ah, Premier), Sequoia, ES & S, and Hart? The vast majority of sales have already taken place. And there are still some states that have statewide implementations from one vendor without VVPAT, such as Maryland and Georgia . But the truth is that no one recently has come out with a new DRE device. Third tier vendors (see my site for a listing) have had little success and many of them are now folding up shop, and the ones that are still remaining have got to be hurting, or working on other lines of business.

It reminds me of a little known fact about species extinction. You can still have a living instance of a species and it can still be extinct. For example, the Dodo bird was still extinct when the last male dodo was still living. It simply means that the species has no further capacity to reproduce itself. The DRE is in a similar situation. It exists out there in the wild, but it isn’t going anywhere.

It also reminds me of the game of Lawn Jarts. This was a very popular game invented probably in the late 60s or early 70s. Some time around the 80s there were some deaths of children associated with this game (beer was also associated with this event). It was officially banned in the US in 1988. Canada banned them in 1989. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission essentially “decertified” them for use in the US .

As you can see, parents were urged to discard them or destroy them immediately. However, they still exist and some families still probably use them. Now, if used foolishly, say, with beer, they can be dangerous. Used carefully and wisely, they can be safely enjoyed. If you do a search on Google you will find many anxious people worried about what to do with them. They want to put them up on eBay but they are afraid it is illegal and they are deeply worried about that. Confusion abounds.

In the end, the existence of Jarts has faded from peoples’ memory. Now and then you run across a set in someone’s garage or garage sale (can we sell them there?), and you reflect on what fun you used to have with them and the great memories of it all.

But, no, we have to protect the children. Welcome to our new Brave New Nerf-ball world.