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September 06, 2006

Not A Bug, A Feature Vote Fraud

The NYT editorializes on the state of voting in this country:

It's hard to believe that nearly six years after the disasters of Florida in 2000, states still haven't mastered the art of counting votes accurately. Yet there are growing signs that the country is moving into another presidential election cycle in disarray.

The most troubling evidence comes from Ohio, a key swing state, whose electoral votes decided the 2004 presidential election. A recent government report details enormous flaws in the election system in Ohio's biggest county, problems that may not be fixable before the 2008 election.

Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, hired a consulting firm to review its election system. The county recently adopted Diebold electronic voting machines that produce a voter-verified paper record of every vote cast. The investigators compared the vote totals recorded on the machines after this year's primary with the paper records produced by the machines. The numbers should have been the same, but often there were large and unexplained discrepancies. The report also found that nearly 10 percent of the paper records were destroyed, blank, illegible, or otherwise compromised.

This is seriously bad news even if, as Diebold insists, the report overstates the problem. Under Ohio law, the voter-verified paper record, not the voting machine total, is the official ballot for purposes of a recount. The error rates the report identified are an invitation to a meltdown in a close election.

The report also found an array of other problems. The county does not have a standardized method for conducting a manual recount. That is an invitation, as Florida 2000 showed, to chaos and litigation. And there is a serious need for better training of poll workers, and for more uniform voter ID policies. Disturbingly, the report found that 31 percent of blacks were asked for ID, while just 18 percent of others were. [Emphasis added]

Diebold also makes ATMs. Imagine if 10% of ATM receipts "were destroyed, blank, illegible, or otherwise compromised" — Diebold would go out of business overnight. But ATM failures are so rare that they make the evening news. Which is to say, Diebold knows how to make the technology work. The obvious conclusion: 10% slop in the system isn't a bug, it's a feature. The machines give people a false sense of security, but 10% is a margin of error large enough to let almost any election be stolen.

It's not like we don't know the consequences. Not after 2000 and 2004. It's a measure of the deterioration of American democracy that we just slide along as if nothing can be done. If it were the banking system, we'd fix it in a hurry. But it's voting, and for some reason we accept that accurate voting is simply too much to ask for.

Posted by Jonathan at September 6, 2006 05:40 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Comments

Ok, this is pretty, uh, weird.

Not two hours after posting the above, I stopped to get some cash from an ATM. For the first time ever in my life, the ATM erred. It at least knew it had erred -- the screen said "Possible machine malfunction" -- but I'd asked for $200, it gave me $60, and the receipt said $50 -- which isn't even a multiple of 20.

I tell ya, the whole world's haunted.

Posted by: Jonathan at September 6, 2006 07:46 PM

When our government cannot do Sesame Street math, it’s not because of incompetence, it’s for a reason. Therefore I believe we no longer live in a democracy because without a fair and accurate voting system, there is no democracy.

Our next president will not be elected by the people. That person will be appointed, in secret, regardless of which ticket they run on. Unless something catastrophic happens to this administration, and many in congress, our next president will bring us much closer to a new America. Bush is just lining the ducks in a row, doing the prep work. This is the hard work, setting the stage, and if successful he will be revered a hero for a lifetime by the elite he once served.

This voting mess is the most telling sign of what’s to come. The world’s most powerful and successful country can’t do Sesame Street math. When it looks like dog do, feels like dog go and smells like dog do, it’s dog do.

Posted by: Jeff at September 7, 2006 12:28 PM