Panel Explores Tech, Voting in 2020 Election

A special guest on a panel exploring technology and the 2020 U.S. election said the country’s voting system was designed to keep out ethnic minorities, as is the healthcare system, which has led to disproportionate numbers of people of color who have COVID-19. 

Writer, activist and comedian Baratunde Thurston was special guest on the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Central Coast panel on “Election 2020: Technology’s Role in Shaping a Decision” on Sept. 16. The five panelists spoke remotely from venues around the world. 

Thurston said to say that coronavirus hit everyone “all equally is a lie.” Minorities, especially children, have been more affected by the virus per capita than white people. 

He also noted that minorities are lagging in technology access, implying that in this age they may have a harder time doing many things such as voting. 

The panelists generally agreed that technology can be used to improve the election process 

Panelist Brian J. Fox, founder of tech company Kano.ONE, said voting technology is “inevitable,” but it needs to be visible to the public so that everyone believes their vote counts. 

He said that’s is not happening today. Fox said it is still too easy to destroy ballots. 

Panelist Doc Searls, a fellow with the Center for Information Technology and Society at UC Santa Barbara and former journalist, said the country must find digital ways to improve the election process. He said the system should have its obsolete elements removed. 

Other panelists included: Douglas T. Hickey, ambassador, commissioner general and board member of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights center; and Donald Nichols, national lead for the U.S. Postal Service Political & Mailing Services. 

Posted Sept. 19, 2020.

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