What's on your ballot?

Why we must demand paper audit trails to have valid elections

Just as the attacks of 9/11 allowed the right-wing to implement a more extreme agenda than anyone would have otherwise let them get away with, the debacle of the 2000 elections has allowed them to hijack the election process itself, without a peep of protest.

When you have a guy in office who lost the election by half a million votes and who only "won" after gross election irregularities in the state where his brother was governor and the election supervisor was his campaign chairperson, you have to expect a certain amount of hindsight adjustment.

"Hanging chads" weren't the problem in 2000.  It was Florida's inability to conduct a legitimate election upon which the national results hinged.  The chads became the symbol of the evidence of this incompetence.  So, instead of addressing the problem, they have worked to remove the evidence

Florida "fixed" its election process by purchasing electronic voting machines.  Most of the machines used in Florida were purchased from the company that owns the monopoly on voting machines (as well as the vote counting machines) in Nebraska - ES&S (Election Systems & Software). ES&S was owned by Chuck Hagel until he decided to run for office himself.  He sold the company to Michael McCarthy's AIS (American Information Systems) and then ran for Senator (with McCarthy as his campaign treasurer)This is the "fix" he sold to Florida.

Even if you can get over the incredibly obvious conflict of interest, there are some technical irregularities you simply can't ignore.   Little things like control of the code that runs the machines, the presence of internal modems, accountability of the machines themselves, unsecured vote counting, and the lack of any sort of paper audit trail  - all these are real issues and valid security considerations that are not being addressed. 

Now add money to the mixture. Campaign funding, kickbacks, contract awarding, foreign involvement in and  ownership of companies.

"But what about the exit polls?" you ask.  What exit polls? Voter News Service announced the day before mid-term elections in 2002 that it wasn't going to do them anymore

So here you have Republican companies selling Republican officials the very machines that will get them elected.  You can't see the code, you can't watch the counting process, you have to trust the election officials not to have ghost machines out there, you don't even get a paper printout of your own vote, there are no independent sources to compare against, and you can't challenge the results after the fact because there is nothing left to investigate.

So what can you do?

1) Investigate NOW.  Find copies of your state's election laws.  Most states have amendments to existing laws to address the new presence of voting machines

2)  Find out the following:

  a)  Who makes purchasing decisions for election equipment in your _____ (district, county, precinct, parish, state)?

  b)  Who is manufacturing the machines used in your district?  Who owns the company?  Where else has that company sold machines?  What kind of results have they seen?

  c)  What does your state law say regarding the control of electronic voting machines?  Who reviews the programs running the machines?  Who approves the vendors or machines for quality and security? 

  d)  What does your state law say about physical control?  Where are the machines programmed?  Can they be reprogrammed once deployed?  Who can reprogram them?  Who services the machines in the field? 
What kind of training is required for them?  What reporting do they do when they work on machines in the field, and to whom?

3)  Find out who your (district/county) election supervisor is, who he or she is accountable to, and how he or she was selected.

4)  Volunteer.  Find out how you can become an election monitor, counting supervisor, or poll worker. Get a part-time or volunteer gig installing the machines for the company.  See if you can get certified to service the machines or provide security for the polls and counting.

5)  Contact Jimmy Carter and see if you can get his group to monitor your elections. 

6) Proactively verify your voting statusDon't risk getting turned away on election day because of some bogus technicality that they'll tell you to clear up after the election.  Don't let that happen to others.

7)  Let them know that you are watching  and that you will hold them accountable.