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Thursday, October 23, 2003

Have you heard anything about electronic voting? No, I don't mean a scantron machine that verifies your paper ballot before you leave the voting precinct (Used in Ann Arbor and just about everywhere else rich people live) - I mean a machine that records your vote electronically, keeps no record, and registered negative 16,022 votes for Al Gore in Florida. Made by a company that gives lots of money to republicans. To quote something I heard Jim Hightower say once, 'no matter how cynical I get I can never seem to keep up'. Here's some information about students who have made public internal documents, including the one below, from that company. Oh, and I'm risking a lawsuit from the Diebold corporation for posting this here:

"From: Lana Hires [mailto:lhires@co.volusia.fl.us]
Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 8:07 AM
To: jmglobal@earthlink.net; Glanca@ges.com
Cc: Deanie Lowe
Subject: 2000 November Election

Hi Nel, Sophie & Guy (you to John),
I need some answers! Our department is being audited by the County. I have been waiting for someone to give me an explanation as to why Precinct 216 gave Al Gore a minus 16022 when it was uploaded. Will someone please explain this so that I have the information to give the auditor instead of standing here "looking dumb". I would appreciate an explanation on why the memory cards start giving check sum messages. We had this happen in several precincts and one of these precincts managed to get her memory card out of election mode and then back in it, continued to read ballots, not realizing that the 300+ ballots she had read earlier were no longer stored in her memory card . Needless to say when we did our hand count this was discovered.
Any explantations you all can give me will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks bunches,
Lana"
(Source)

If that weren't hair-raising enough, check out "All the President's Votes" from the London Independent:

"Something very odd happened in the mid-term elections in Georgia last November. On the eve of the vote, opinion polls showed Roy Barnes, the incumbent Democratic governor, leading by between nine and 11 points. In a somewhat closer, keenly watched Senate race, polls indicated that Max Cleland, the popular Democrat up for re-election, was ahead by two to five points against his Republican challenger, Saxby Chambliss.

Those figures were more or less what political experts would have expected in state with a long tradition of electing Democrats to statewide office. But then the results came in, and all of Georgia appeared to have been turned upside down. Barnes lost the governorship to the Republican, Sonny Perdue, 46 per cent to 51 per cent, a swing of as much as 16 percentage points from the last opinion polls. Cleland lost to Chambliss 46 per cent to 53, a last-minute swing of 9 to 12 points.

But something about these explanations did not make sense, and they have made even less sense over time. When the Georgia secretary of state's office published its demographic breakdown of the election earlier this year, it turned out there was no surge of angry white men; in fact, the only subgroup showing even a modest increase in turnout was black women.

There were also big, puzzling swings in partisan loyalties in different parts of the state. In 58 counties, the vote was broadly in line with the primary election. In 27 counties in Republican-dominated north Georgia, however, Max Cleland unaccountably scored 14 percentage points higher than he had in the primaries. And in 74 counties in the Democrat south, Saxby Chambliss garnered a whopping 22 points more for the Republicans than the party as a whole had won less than three months earlier.

Now, weird things like this do occasionally occur in elections, and the figures, on their own, are not proof of anything except statistical anomalies worthy of further study. But in Georgia there was an extra reason to be suspicious. Last November, the state became the first in the country to conduct an election entirely with touchscreen voting machines, after lavishing $54m (33m) on a new system that promised to deliver the securest, most up-to-date, most voter-friendly election in the history of the republic. The machines, however, turned out to be anything but reliable. With academic studies showing the Georgia touchscreens to be poorly programmed, full of security holes and prone to tampering, and with thousands of similar machines from different companies being introduced at high speed across the country, computer voting may, in fact, be US democracy's own 21st-century nightmare.
...
Roxanne Jekot, who has put much of her professional and personal life on hold to work on the issue full time, puts it even more strongly. "Corporate America is very close to running this country. The only thing that is stopping them from taking total control are the pesky voters. That's why there's such a drive to control the vote. What we're seeing is the corporatisation of the last shred of democracy.

"I feel that unless we stop it here and stop it now," she says, "my kids won't grow up to have a right to vote at all."


Posted by Rob at 12:26 AM
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