Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Read It and Weep

As the film Hacking Democracy and Gregg Palast's tome Armed Madhouse clearly illustrate, America's election process is in deep trouble. Worse, the so-called Help America Vote Act (HAVA) is really a misnomer. Rather than help voters, the act, among other things, establishes a requirement that voter registrations match a computer database (guess which party dominates most of the software?). The software kicks out voter registrations of anyone whose name doesn't match the "database." In one year alone roughly half of California voters registrations were kicked out because of data entry errors by those using the program, not voter fraud. In most cases, the registrations didn't match the database because of typist error. But there is room for other mischief. For example, misspelled names in the database itself or mismatches because maiden names were not used by voters in drivers licenses, but are required in some state voter registrations. It's a system ripe for chaos.

None of this addresses the malicious touch-screen voting machines which have neither paper trails, auditability nor real security. Voters in Roanoke, Virginia, and elsewhere voted for one candidate and had the opposite candidate's name show up in the confirmation screen. Hacking Democracy documents how a group of citizens courageously made an irrefutable case--that most Americans don't even know about.

The selections of 2000 and 2004 are well-documented for the thefts they are. But few seem to care. In 2000, the Democratic party swooped in and pressured Al Gore to give up. Tens of thousands of Democrats were purged wrongfully from voter rolls and falsely labeled felons because individuals had a similar first, or last, name or shared a birthday with a felon on a computerized list. The so-called "undervote" in FL was, in many cases, simply often when ballots had votes for some offices, but not for others. Have you ever done that, when,say, a soil and conversation candidate is unknown to you? That is not supposed to invalidate a ballot. Sometimes voters don't make a decision in one race, but do in all the others.

Books have been written on the debacle that was Ohio in 2004. Here Mark Crispin Miller rebuts the corporate line trying to sew skepticism. His book Fooled Again is another recommended read. Also read works by Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fritakis here. Read their book, What Happened in Ohio? here.Watch Hacking Democracy for compelling footage of misdeeds and organized corruption of the election process there. It's caught on tape.

As proven in Hacking Democracy, in Volusia County, FL, Al Gore had a negative vote total of than 16,000 votes (-16,000), enough by itself to have turned the selection of 2000. Votes were subtracted from, rather than added to, his total. That itself is more than enough to seal the election. But never mind. The fix has been in for some time.

Now comes Allen Raymond, who was in the center of the GOP fix-the-election and campaign dirty tricks activity, shows how compared to today's treachery, Nixon plumbers were just amateurs. Will Pitt (William Rivers Pitt), blogger and journalist par excellence, reviews Raymond's book,How to Rig and Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative,here. You'll want to read this book. And get the Democratic Party to care about this. They are, no doubt, afraid to give credence to any story that would cause voters to be cynical, and thus not show up. The reasoning seems to be we need to rise above this stuff and vote (legally)in even greater numbers. But ignorance is not bliss and it won't make the problem go away.