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Topic: A good nonpartisan issue we might be able to agree on! Voting Machines

  1. #1

    A good nonpartisan issue we might be able to agree on! Voting Machines

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    The text below from www.blackboxvoting.com pretty much says it all. This problem is a good nonpartisan, non black helecoptor issue and its very well documented and tons of legal challenges are happening. All our debates are meaningless if our elections become a complete mystery. The main issue is that people want paper printouts of every vote. Otherwise, there is no possibility of a recount. The conflicts of interest and the mistakes these machine make, the secrecy and the arrogant attitude of the people involved are unacceptable!

    Sample article on the situation:
    As Floridians went to the polls last Tuesday, Glenda Hood, Katherine Harris\'s successor as secretary of state, assured the nation that Florida\'s voting system would not break down this year the way it did in 2000. Florida now has \"the very best\" technology available, she declared on CNN. \"And I do feel that it\'s a great disservice to create the feeling that there\'s a problem when there is not.\" Hours later, results in Bay County showed that with more than 60 percent of precincts reporting, Richard Gephardt, who long before had pulled out of the presidential race, was beating John Kerry by two to one. \"I\'m devastated,\" the county\'s top election official said, promising a recount of his county\'s 19,000 votes.

    Florida\'s official line is that its machines are so carefully tested, nothing can go wrong. But things already have gone wrong. In a January election in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, the victory margin was 12 votes, but the machines recorded more than 130 blank ballots. It is simply not believable that 130 people showed up to cast a nonvote, in an election with only one race on the ballot. The runner-up wanted a recount, but since the machines do not produce a paper record, there was nothing to recount.

    In 2002, in the primary race for governor between Janet Reno and Bill McBride, electronic voting problems were so widespread they cast doubt on the outcome. Many Miami-Dade County votes were not counted on election night because machines were shut down improperly. One precinct with over 1,000 eligible voters recorded no votes, despite a 33 percent turnout statewide. Election workers spent days hunting for lost votes, while Floridians waited, in an uncomfortable replay of 2000, to see whether Mr. McBride\'s victory margin, which had dwindled to less than 10,000, would hold up.

    This past Tuesday, even though turnout was minimal, there were problems. Voters were wrongly given computer cards that let them vote only on local issues, not in the presidential primary. Machines did not work. And there were, no doubt, other mishaps that did not come to light because of the stunning lack of transparency around voting in the state. When a Times editorial writer dropped in on one Palm Beach precinct where there were reports of malfunctioning machines, county officials called the police to remove him.

    The machines WORK and if you try to say differently, we will have you arrested.

    Last week, Representative Robert Wexler, a Florida Democrat, filed a federal lawsuit to require paper trails. He relies on the Supreme Court\'s holding in Bush v. Gore that equal protection requires states to use comparable recount methods from county to county. Florida law currently requires a hand recount in close races. That is possible in most counties, but the 15 that use electronic voting machines do not produce paper records that can be recounted. Under the logic of Bush v. Gore, Representative Wexler is right.

    Go to www.blackboxvoting.com as a starting point. It doesn\'t matter if you are liberal, conservative or libertarian. This must be fixed for those labels to even have meaning. Then at least the powers that be will have to continue to buy the elections and the candidates will actually have to try and win our votes.


  2. #2

    Re: A good nonpartisan issue we might be able to agree on! Voting Machines

    Up here in Canada, we had machines for the more recent elections. We marked our vote on a ballot that could be read by the machine. A recount would still be possible (if necessary) the way it was handled up here, because the paper still existed.

    I agree that there should be a paper trail. There\'s no such thing as a perfect machine.


  3. #3

    Re: A good nonpartisan issue we might be able to agree on! Voting Machines

    A great read is Votescam. It was written years before Election 2000. The topic: vote stealing. Many conservatives pointed to this book as evidence of Democratic vote rigging in the Sunshine State. Theft of democracy can cut both ways. If faith in our election systems fails completely, the entire basis of the country is undermined.

    What I got from this book is that if an election can be stolen, it will be stolen. We have to be as vigilant as bank managers and casino pit bosses when it comes to the vote.

    Paperless voting machines should be illegal. Period. Their accuracy and validity cannot be verified.

    There\'s a really cool system that prints two pieces of paper - one for the ballot box and one for the voter. The voter can later plug the number on the receipt into a website to verify that their vote was counted.

    Another precaution must be implemented: random audits. You see, recounts are generally triggered by fixed rules. For instance a given state might have a rule that says every election with a margin of less than one percent or 1,000 votes would have to be recounted. Well, that\'s easty to rig. Just ensure that every election that is rigged has a margin of at least 1.001% or 1,001 votes.

    Random audits are the way to go. They ensures that if enough elections are rigged, they will eventually come to light. Identifying rigged elections is the first step in fixing broken systems and landing political criminals behind bars.

    Oh yeah, the guy who started the company that creates a dual paper trail? The black helicopters took care of him. Either that, or coincidence theory proves out yet again...


  4. #4

    Re: A good nonpartisan issue we might be able to agree on! Voting Machines

    We\'ll, there you go. This issue uncovers one can of worms after another and we don\'t even have to get into black helecoptor territory for things to start looking real sinister. Anyway, checkout the blackbox voting websites to research and for ways to get involved. Even if we manage to fix this problem, then there is the usual political corruption to deal with but at this point, I would like the good old days of simple corrupt politics & special interests & campaign financing. At least there is a struggle going on in that situation. With the mystery box voting systems, the struggle won\'t even be real.
    Last I heard, they are working on lawsuits in all the states to sue to get a paper trail going. The fact that they are making it so difficult to get a no-brainer thing like a paper trail in our sacred voting process really looks bad on the part of the governments & voting machine companies. Its just too blatant. They have some good lawyers working on it and possibly the ACLU (strange bedfellows, concervatives, libertarians and democrats & ACLU working together) They have several angles to use since they are working with a broad spectrum of political ideologies. They can point out mistakes that hurt both republicans and democrats, they can bring a large minority lobby to it since there are allegations of disenfranchisement there. Its not hopeless anyway.


  5. #5

    Re: A good nonpartisan issue we might be able to agree on! Voting Machines

    I find the arguments against paper trails really weak.

    One claim is that it will be too costly. Apparently, spending millions on paperless machines was A-okay. I\'m hoping that some of the people that are against paper are just embarrased that they funded the crummy machines, and don\'t want to be taken to task for making a mistake that causes tax payers to buy replacements before they get their money out of the originals.

    Another claim is that the printers are unreliable. Well, Diebold makes ATM machines. Those printers seem to work fine - and those are used daily in areas exposed to hard environments. Printer cost and reliability is a non-starter.

    A really weird argument is that a paper trail will enable vote buying. The scenario is that I could go to a poor neighborhood and tell people I\'ll give \'em $10 if they vote for my candidate. They bring me the receipt, and I give \'em ten bucks. This is possible, but the consequences would be limited. For me to gain 1,000 votes, I\'d need $10,000 to spend - and I\'d need to try to bribe 1,000 or more people. That makes it likely that somebody will squeal, and I\'ll go to jail. The single piece of paper for the ballot box would not issue the receipt and would not have this risk.

    Even so, I\'ll take vote buying over systematic rigging anyday. Because of economics and word of mouth, vote buying has limited scope. Changing the results of an election wholesale is another story. Systematic fraud turns democracy into a facade.

    Then there are those who think that election tampering doesn\'t exist. Balderdash. US citizens will give billions of dollars in overal campaign donations this year. Policy decisions of those electred can alter the flow of trillions of dollars. In comparison to these stakes, robbing banks and casinos is for chumps.

    In short, the arguments against a paper trail are extremely weak. The arguments for a system that preclude wholesale cheating, even at the risk of some limited retail cheating are strong.

    BTW, one way that you can be assured to vote on paper is to vote absentee. And you can deliver it by hand to your local elections office. That isn\'t to say that this is foolproof. It\'s just a simple way that you can refuse to play video poker with your own vote.

  6. #6

    Re: A good nonpartisan issue we might be able to agree on! Voting Machines

    Vote buying... As to that, people are not nessesarily asking for a paper that can be taken with them. Just a paper vote that would go in a locked ballot box so that audits and recounts are even doable. If the paper count and electronic count don\'t match, then there would be trouble. I love the machines we have here in Austin. They work great and never cause me any grief when I use them. They use a jog wheel and buttons, no touch screen. All I want is the ability to print the ballot, check it for accuracy and drop it in a box. Sure this uses up a lot of paper but the damage to the evironment could be much worse if the wrong people take over the system and get \"elected\" Paper is renewable and there is no shortage of it. Landfill space is limited so we would want to recyle it.

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