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Wes Jones' Voting Page

Remember the stolen election of 2000? The problems with "hanging chads" and recounts? The disenfranchisement? Are we ready for tough-screen voting machines?

Here are some thoughts on voting and the coming election

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Consider this scenario:
"It's election night, and early returns suggest trouble for the incumbent. Then, mysteriously, the vote count stops and observers from the challenger's campaign see employees of a voting-machine company, one wearing a badge that identifies him as a county official, typing instructions at computers with access to the vote-tabulating software.

"When the count resumes, the incumbent pulls ahead. The challenger demands an investigation. But there are no ballots to recount, and election officials allied with the incumbent refuse to release data that could shed light on whether there was tampering with the electronic records.

"This isn't a paranoid fantasy. It's a true account of a recent election in Riverside County, Calif., reported by Andrew Gumbel of the British newspaper The Independent. Mr. Gumbel's full-length report, printed in Los Angeles City Beat, makes hair-raising reading not just because it reinforces concerns about touch-screen voting, but also because it shows how easily officials can stonewall after a suspect election."

 

This is a quote from a recent editorial by Paul Krugman in The New York Times.

Andrew Gumbel has written about problems with voting machines used in recent California elections in the Los Angeles CityBeat. Here is a transcript of the article mentioned by Krugman ("Down for the Count"; the original article appears here; it is a little hard to read because of the font). In another article from 2003 called Mock the Vote he discussed problems with California's elections (a transcript is here).

Gregory Palast wrote in The Nation about the various techniques used in Florida to disenfranchise black voters, including purging of felons, "spoiled" ballots, and rejected registrations.

Farhad Manjoo wrote in Salon earlier this year about the issues with voting machines, especially in the 2002 Georgia elections, and talked with many of the people who support and oppose touch-screen voting machines.

Gumbel has also written about the companies that make the voting machines:

The chief executive of American Information Systems in the early Nineties was Chuck Hagel, who went on to run for elective office and became the first Republican in 24 years to be elected to the Senate from Nebraska, cheered on by the Omaha World-Herald newspaper which also happens to be a big investor in ES&S. In yet another clamorous conflict of interest, 80 per cent of Mr Hagel's winning votes — both in 1996 and again in 2002 — were counted, under the usual terms of confidentiality, by his own company.

 

An article in The Nation by Ronnie Dugger about the political connections of the companies involved in counting the votes is here.  

 

 

Wes Jones
wesman@wesjones.com


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Last updated: Monday, November 14, 2011