Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Bad elections and the good guys who try to fix them 
Kerry may have lost in 2004, but then again he may have won. When the Florida vote was stolen in 2000, there was at least some emotional recourse - we ultimately found out via various informal recounts that Al Gore really DID win Florida, and the election - not that the information is worth much now.

2004 is different - not because the level of fraud and fuck-up is lower (quite the opposite) - but because, thanks to deliberately bad, intentionally unauditable, easily hacked computerized voting machines, there is no way to know what votes were actually cast. We demand higher levels of security for junior high school student council elections. The US electoral system is, as of 2004 (actually as of the 2002 Florida gubernatorial election) entirely untrustworthy. It didn't (and doesn't) have to be that way. Last year, NJ Representative Rush Holt proposed The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003 which, among other things, required a verifiable paper trail for all electronic voting. It attracted very broad bi-partisan sponsorship, but Tom DeLay and Speaker Dennis Hastert (both Republican stalwarts) would not allow it to be brought to the floor. It's no accident that the two largest electronic voting machine vendors are Deibold (run by people who vowed to give Ohio to George W Bush) and ES&S, whose former CEO is conservative Republican Senator Chuck Hagel.

This need to be a front burner issue for all Americans. If the voting mechanism itself cannot be trusted, there is no democracy. Right now the most work to improve this situation is being done by BlackBoxVoting.org. Not only are they working to expose the vulnerabilities of current electronic voting machines, they are also lobbying for improvements and pursuing legal remedies for suspicious elections. Give 'em some money. Their website is overwhelmed right now so, if you can't get through right away, please try again later.

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