On Monday the Seattle Times gave former Washington Secretary of State Ralph Munro precious space on its op/ed page to advocate for online voting:
HAVING served as Washington's chief elections official for 20 years, I am impressed by those advocating our state move to online voting.
While there still are security issues to resolve before we implement true online voting, I strongly encourage more elections officials to embrace available technologies that utilize the power of the Internet to make our elections more accessible and efficient, without compromising the security of a voter's ballot.
Okay. Fair enough. I'm a technologist at heart and don't entirely dismiss the notion that online voting could someday be made accessible, efficient, and secure. But in talking about something as central to democracy as the integrity of our voting system, you'd think both Munro and the Seattle Times might have bothered to disclose to readers that in addition to being a former secretary of state, Munro is also a current director and former longtime chairman of Dategrity Corporation (formerly VoteHere), a for-profit company selling online voting technology.
This strikes me as a pretty ginormous conflict of interest.
That Munro is "impressed by those advocating our state move to online voting" shouldn't come as much of a surprise to the handful of us election integrity wonks familiar with Munro's decade-long leadership of VoteHere/Dategrity. But the fact that the Seattle Times didn't see fit to mention this to their readers is simply mind-fuckingly irresponsible.
Munro is a "former Washington Secretary of State," the paper tells us. He "served as Washington's election chief for 20 years." That makes him sound awfully damn credible. But while I don't doubt that he genuinely believes in online voting, the fact that Munro stands to make more than few bucks should it be widely adopted is something he and the editors had an ethical obligation to disclose. You know, context and all that.
Makes me wonder how much of the rest of their op/ed page is similarly filled with advertorials?