Friday, November 18, 2005

Electronic voting fraud is an American issue

Electronic voting fraud is an American issue

McNaughton Newspapers 2005<>

So many topics, so little column space. And yet soooooo much email. In the media, we talk of a story having “legs,” meaning that it just keeps running. It seems the topic of electronic voting fraud is a centipede.

I’ve accumulated a mountain of studies and reports on Diebold’s electronic voting machines since I wrote the Deib-Throat columns, all pointing to the same conclusion: the software can be hacked -- undetected -- relatively easily by someone with the technology skills. I also received a “rebuttal” study done by the Caltech/Massachusetts Institute of Technology denying this conclusion, a sentiment echoed in a letter written by Diebold’s president. It’s become a case of software “he said, she said.” I’m not a software engineer. I won’t even pretend to understand the software analyses littering my desktop.

I’m also not a mathematician, so I won’t pretend to understand the detailed statistical study regarding the discrepancy between the exit polls and final tallies in the 2004 Presidential race. However, I understood this paragraph regarding that study just fine: “The findings of the analysis are telling and thought-provoking: In 40 states, the actual election results turned out to be more favourable to Mr. Bush than the exit polls. The probability of such discrepancies occurring by chance is less than one in 10 million.”

Why isn’t the national media all over this topic like stink on a monkey? Why are we hearing about Brad and Angelina rather than a story that may shatter the foundation of American democracy if it’s true? Maybe it’s just not sexy enough. Maybe it won’t move enough Viagra. Or maybe the grotesquely wealthy owners of the national media don't want this issue to come to light.

I personally emailed the Associated Press offices in New York and San Francisco about the volumes of feedback I received from readers since I first wrote about electronic voting fraud and Dieb-Throat, the Diebold whistleblower who’s surfaced at I also called our local NBC affiliate, KCRA Channel 3. All I hear is crickets. Nobody wants to touch this with a 10-foot pole. Maybe that’s why people are frantically encouraging me to keep pushing the issue, as if they’re pinning their hopes on me. If that’s the case, we’re in big trouble. In the media world, I’m not even a small fish in a small pond. I’ll keep on splashing, but it’s hard for a guppy in a mud puddle to make waves.

However, it brings to mind a children’s story about Swimmy, a little fish that encouraged all the other little fish to swim together in the formation of one large fish. Working together, they survived the perilous waters among the sharks. That’s what all us little fish must do -- swim together. But who do we swim to? Will the federal government deal with this issue if our elected officials may have benefited from manipulating electronic votes? Fat chance the fox will cooperate after it’s already in the henhouse. It may be too late to do anything about what’s behind us. We must focus on what’s ahead -- the next election.

Yolo County’s clerk recorder, Freddie Oakley, informed me that (depending on which state) county or state officials choose our voting machines. She also says there’s a machine called a DRE that records a vote electronically, but produces a paper ballot on the spot that can be viewed through a glass in the voting booth and either approved or trashed by the voter. Those ballots are collected and can be hand-counted if necessary, just like the old-fashioned ones.

We must pressure our local officials to use these types of machines or the old-fashioned kind, not those used in the 2004 election. Beyond the local elections level, we must demand that our political parties, both Democrat AND Republican, delve into the electronic voting fraud issue -- past, present and future. We must rise above the partisanship and protect the sanctity of our votes. As Oakley told me, voting is “the liturgy of the church of Democracy.”

This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. This is an American issue. We must love our country more than we love our political parties or America is doomed.



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