++ DIEBOLD Voting SCAM machine ++
The end of vote-rigging? Not necessarily
Touch-screen voting is being used for the first time in the
Monday October 6, 2003
Few elections have provided such merriment as the current California
Recall circus: pornographers, meat-packers (retired), religious
fanatics, and comedians (aren't they all?). A cast of hundreds is
jockeying for leadership of the world's fifth largest economy. And
who will stride out from the campaign wreckage tomorrow? The
Terminator - or "champion of women", as he prefers to be called, now
that his groping days are behind him. Hollywood couldn't invent it.
After the laughs die down and the headlines move elsewhere, one
aspect of the Recall will impact on democracies across the world -
namely TSV. To go back a bit. California - for all its craziness - is
solidly Democratic. Registered voters of that party are convinced
that George Bush (aided by brother Jeb) stole the 2000 election. He
lost, and came out winner. If Gore was in the White House would those
Texan brigands (the Enron Gang) have bled California dry? Would the
state be facing a $40bn (£24bn) deficit? Would the country be mired
in the Iraqi quicksand? No to all the above.
How did the Bushes and their Florida henchmen pull off the electoral
heist of the century? With inefficient vote-casting machines. These
devices are notoriously unreliable and easily interfered with. A
survey by political scientists after the Florida scandal found that
6% of votes cast nationwide in the 2000 presidential election were
probably uncounted because of the inefficiency of these antiquated
machines - far more than the margin that did for President (in your
dreams, California) Gore.
The California Recall election has been chosen as a testing ground
for what is predicted will be universal in 10 years: Touch-Screen
Voting. About 10% of California's 15 million voters will let their
fingers do the work. It is as simple as your ATM. You pick up a "vote-
access" smart card from the recording officer. You vote by responding
to an onscreen questionnaire, which takes you through the
(multitudinous) candidates. A final "summary screen" allows you to
rectify errors. The computer is, effectively, a standalone lock-box.
It is not web-connected. It stores ballots until polling day - hence
Californians will have been TS-voting for a week or more ahead of
time. Ninety-five per cent of users are reported to be delighted with
their new electoral toy.
TSV is infinitely smoother than the old punched-card systems that
have been around for 20 years and which did such a disservice to
American democracy in 2000. It is the kind of voting technology that
Cyberdyne Systems Corporation might have come up with (Terminator II,
in case you have forgotten). Very appropriate for the new governor of
The leading-edge TSV technology is actually developed and distributed
by Diebold Election Systems, based in Ohio. It currently has about
33,000 machines in place across the US. Soon its conveniently tactile
voting screens will be everywhere, and everyone (or at least 95% of
everyone) will be happy.
Or will they? What was it Stalin said? Who votes does not matter - it
is he who counts the votes that matters. Diebold will, in the future,
be doing the counting. That worries some Americans - particularly
Democrats of a suspicious cast of mind. On August 14, the corporate
chief of Diebold, Walden ("Wally" to his pals) O'Dell, circulated a
fundraising letter saying he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver
its electoral votes to the president next year". Shortly after, Wally
attended a strategy meeting of wealthy Bush benefactors at the
president's Crawford Texas Ranch. Let's hope it was only dollars and
advice he "committed".
It's not merely Luddites who distrust the new technology. The more
you know about computers, the more suspicious you are (see, for
instance, the rabid paranoia about Diebold on Slashdot - "News for
Nerds: Stuff that Matters"). TSV, it is alleged, is as convenient for
the vote-rigger as it is for the voter.
Who knows, after 2004 America may go back to the blunt pencil and the
cross in the box.
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