The Next Voting Debacle?

Database problems may disqualify legitimate voters in upcoming U.S. elections

7 min read

The Help America Vote Act of 2002, or HAVA, has garnered most of its notoriety because it required election officials throughout the United States to replace old paper-based voting machines with controversial new electronic equipment by 2004. But there are other provisions in the law that took effect only in January 2006, and these are quietly creating their own potential for disrupting elections this November—including the 468 House and Senate contests that will determine control of Congress.

The new HAVA rules concern the databases that contain the voter rolls—and in 49 of the 50 states, if you are not on the rolls, you can’t vote. Elections have often turned on the question of who gets to vote and who does not. This time around, voter eligibility will depend in large part on the contents of a number of databases, most of which have been in existence for less than a year and some of which have not been constructed in accord with the best practices of the database industry.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code with a single strand of "spaghetti code" being pulled from the top of the frame in a neverending loop on a blue gradient background.
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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