2004/11/14

Voting Parts I & II

Voting Part I

So far, the consensus on the blogs appears to be that we lefties, liberals, progressives and Democrats can't prove that the vote of Nov 2nd was rigged or gamed. Our concerns, however, are quite legitimate and deserve to be taken seriously.

  1. The voting machines use software that is closed-source (We can't see the code) and to my knowledge, only Republicans and Republican-leaning voting machine company employees have been able to examine the code. Having taken a COBOL programming course back in the late 80s, I can testify that it was entirely possible to code a computer so that it appeared to post a vote for John Kerry while it was actually posting a vote for George Bush. Back in the old days with an Underwood typewriter, if you pressed the “A” key, you'd get an “A” on the paper, guaranteed. That's because the connection between the key and the item that strikes the paper was entirely mechanical. With a computer, the connection involves software. Everybody has entered passwords into computers, whether it's into an ATM for cash or into an email account for access. The information is interpreted differently on the screen and by program that needs the password. The screen shows a series of asterisks, the program receives the appropriate combination of letters and numbers. If that was easy to program in the late 80s, and it was, it wouldn't be any difficulty nowadays.

  2. The Secretaries of State for both Ohio and Florida are both staunchly loyal Republicans. Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell tried to demand that all new voting registrations be printed on 80-lb stock paper and that all of the new registrations (Overwhelmingly Democratic) were unsuitable and had to be done over. This move was ultimately ruled unnecessary. Florida's Secretary of State Glenda Hood, resisted releasing Florida's 47,000 name felon list, i.e. The list of people legally barred from voting. When a judge finally got to examine the list, the irregularities were so great and so heavily weighted against Democrats, the list was simply scrapped. In neither case has either Secretary of State proven to be worthy of trust.

  3. In both cases a paper trail, a system that produced a sheet of paper marked with the voter's choices, would solve most, if not all, counting and re-counting problems. Neither state has instituted policies demanding that voting machines have paper trails.

  4. Personally, I very strongly oppose giving private, for-profit companies any say in something as crucial to democracy as to how we vote. If we're going to have them involved at all, it should be with extensive oversight, elaborate cross-checks and intrusive safeguards. The code for the voting machine computers should be open-source and thoroughly tested and examined by all interested parties, Republicans, Democrats, Greens, LaRouchites, Naderites, Communists, everybody. There should also be a paper trail, every vote should result in a sheet that can be counted and re-counted, so that there's no question as to how each citizen voted.


Voting Part II


Writer and world traveler Tariq Ali was a strong opponent of Bush in the 2004 election but gave a reasonably good summation of why some leftists preferred that Bush win instead of Kerry. A Naderite disagrees with how Nader supporters are characterized, but does not disprove Democrat's assertions as to why they opposed Nader's run, i.e. Nader took votes away from Kerry, thereby helping to ensure Bush's win. Bush won by a large enough margin and Nader's share of the vote was so small that Nader can't be blamed for Bush's victory. Nevertheless, Nader caused the Democratic Party to waste time, money, attention and resources that could have been put to better use opposing Bush.

I've been reading Z Magazine since it was first published in 1989. Edward Herman has been one of my favorite writers on that and he gave a talk on Nov 14th at the Brandywine potluck supper. He also went through the reasons why some leftists preferred Bush over Kerry. But his final argument was, for me, the clincher.

United States citizens are also citizens of the world. The world was deeply interested in the outcome of this last election and very strongly preferred Kerry over Bush. As proper citizens of the world, Americans should have put their private, parochial interests aside and voted in favor of the world's clearly expressed preference.

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