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Vermont journalist Sue Halpern reports on national issues for the New Yorker magazine, where she is a staff writer. Her recent reporting has included stories about the 40-year effort to ban abortion pills, the promise and peril of artificial intelligence, and threats to democracy.
One topic that she has covered in depth is the effort to subvert elections. She has written about candidates for secretary of state who deny that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, attempts by election deniers to access electronic voting systems and the Republican war on voting.
Halpern was recently shocked to discover that Vermont is currently considering allowing internet voting, which experts have described as “a security nightmare.” The provision, which is supported by the Office of the Vermont Secretary of State, is tucked into legislation, H.429, that was approved last month by the Vermont House and is now being considered in the Senate. Among those arguing against Vermont’s internet voting provision are the watchdog groups Common Cause, Public Citizen, Free Speech for the People and the Brennan Center for Justice.
Halpern is the author of seven books, including the best-selling “A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home” and “Four Wings and a Prayer,” which was made into an Emmy-nominated film. She was a columnist for Mother Jones, Ms. Magazine and Smithsonian Magazine, and has written on science, technology and politics for the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, The New Republic and The New York Review of Books. She is a scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, where she directs the program in narrative journalism. Halpern is also a board member of the Vermont Journalism Trust, the parent organization of VTDigger.
Based on her reporting on internet voting, Halpern insisted that “every computer science expert who has looked into internet voting is against it because it is insecure.”
Halpern has recently reported on artificial intelligence engines such as ChatGPT. “My biggest concern is that it’s going to be used for disinformation and misinformation as we go forward in our very fractured political life,” she said.
Halpern’s reporting shines a light on the fragile state of democracy in the U.S.
“We have people who are trying to undermine the two parts of our public life that are central to the preservation of democracy, and those are public schools and public libraries,” she said. “I’m deeply worried that the people who are trying to maintain this democracy are kind of working on the case a little bit too late, and they’re not quite as wily as the people who are trying to undermine it.”