Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Cast your vote for anyone – it won’t matter

By DEBRA LoGUERCIO
McNaughton Newspapers

Copyright 2006

It had to roll around sooner or later – the 2008 presidential election. Couldn’t we think about something more pleasant, like income taxes?

The pollsters are already falling all over themselves over who’s out in front and who will beat who and blabbity blabbity blab. So far, it seems Hillary Clinton is a shoe-in for the Democratic nomination. Which means a landslide Republican victory. This doesn’t mean Clinton is unqualified or inferior. It just means she won’t win. Too many people despise her, on a knee-jerk level. She’s just, well, icky.

The only way the acerbic, wooden Clinton stands a chance of winning is against Republican Condoleeza Rice, the quintessential Good Girl who will tap dance double-time for a pat on the head and thinks George W. Bush pisses perfume. As I said before, t’would be a race between the two most unlikable women on earth. Woe is us.

Should both gals get snubbed, I predict Dubya’s heir apparent, John McCain, will finally get his moment in the Republican sun. If so, he needs to rub the brown off his nose with his “I support the President” drone.

McCain. Dude. Check Dubya’s poll numbers! The man’s poison! Approval rating 37 percent and falling like a rock. Don’t utter his name except to say “George Who?”

As for the Democrats, they’ll predictably nominate someone who’s unelectable. Were I in charge, Senators Joe Biden and Barack Obama would be the Democratic ticket. Experience and youth. Black and white. Tough and eloquent. They’d be one fearsome duo to contend with. But McCain would give them a run for their money. He might even win.

Just imagine -- McCain vs. Biden. Two articulate candidates with opposing views and a wealth of experience. We could actually get behind a candidate enthusiastically, rather than half-heartedly cast a vote for the least bad choice. But before we dare to dream about such a scenario, we must hit the rewind button to 2004. There’s some unfinished business. It’s not who won that’s the issue, it’s how they won.

The electronic voting machines used in the 2004 elections have come under fire from consumer groups and on web sites like www.blackboxvoting.org and www.bradblog.com. Pity the same can’t be said of the mainstream media, let alone Congress. The facts are there. But nobody will touch them with a ten-foot pole.

The bipartisan General Accountabilty Office issued a report on Sept. 21, 2005 stating that “Studies found (1) some electronic voting systems did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, and it was possible to alter both without being detected; (2) it was possible to alter the files that define how a ballot looks and works so that the votes for one candidate could be recorded for a different candidate; and (3) vendors installed uncertified versions of voting system software at the local level… some of these concerns were reported to have caused local problems in federal elections -- resulting in the loss or miscount of votes -- and therefore merit attention.”

Noting “significant concerns” from election officials, computer security experts and citizen advocacy groups regarding electronic voting machines -- including weak security controls, system design flaws, inadequate security testing, incorrect system configuration and poor security management -- the report states, “there is evidence that some of these concerns have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes.

“In light of the recently demonstrated voting system problems; the differing views on how widespread these problems are; and the complexity of assuring the accuracy, integrity, confidentiality, and availability of voting systems throughout their life cycles, the security and reliability concerns raised in recent reports merit the focused attention of federal, state, and local authorities responsible for election administration.”

Need I point out that this focused attention never happened.

Included on the GAO’s lengthy list of actual incidents of electronic voting glitches is this: “A malfunction in a DRE system in Ohio caused the system to record approximately 3,900 votes too many for one presidential candidate in the 2004 general election.”

Please, please, please reread that last sentence. Remember Ohio’s role in 2004? If this doesn’t send chills down your All-American spine, I don’t know what will.

What does this mean in 2008? It means all this fuss over who’s ahead in the polls is moot. As are our votes. Who will get elected? Whoever the person at the end of the remote access likes best.

A little focused attention, please. And hurry.