An Issue That Should Unite Us All

I’ve followed and written for a long time about issues with the mechanics of voting – the concern that in a highly polarized polity like ours, the legitimacy of elections is going to be tested, and to the extent there are valid grounds to doubt them, the outcomes will not be accepted.

It’s the old “it’s not the voting, it’s the counting” issue.

Bloggers to the left of me (Brad Friedman at Bradblog is all over this issue), and to the right of me (Instapundit) are all equally concerned about this.

We ought to be more concerned. A lot more concerned.Right now is a four-month window before the June elections when many states are trying to decide how they will comply with the federal HAVA act. Here in California, we are about to be locked in a battle to decide if our votes will be processed – I won’t say counted – by poorly designed voting machines and systems.

Friday, the California Secretary of State conditionally approved (pdf) the use of the fatally-flawed Diebold voting machines, subject to some rather sketchy conditions. Take a look at the attached report (pdf) for the testing he commissioned.

This independent testing that the SoS commissioned found still more flaws – but suggests that it’s OK to use these machines anyway while we cross our fingers and hope.

I don’t think so, and I’ll be working hard to get as much attention paid to this as possible. Over the next few days, I’ll post some specific suggestions about what can be done.

Here are some of my earlier posts on this:

* Whose Vote Is It, Anyway?

* The #1 Priority

* Electronic Voting: Truly, Deeply Stupid

* e-Voting: One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

* Stalin: “It is not the votes that count, but who counts the votes.”

5 thoughts on “An Issue That Should Unite Us All”

  1. You’re absolutely right about e-voting, but why is e-voting a national issue? Because a bunch of political mercenaries convinced thousands of Florida voters in 2000 that they’d probably voted for the wrong perosn by mistake, or had their vote miscounted by a “30 year-old machine”.

    Remember those esteemed public philosophers – like Bill Maher – sputtering with rage over those 30 year-old machines. Except that those machines (built around 1970 and used at most 30 times, about 1/1000th of the use seen by a well-built engine or transmission of the same year) were probably better than anything you can buy today. In 1970, they still built cars whose door handles didn’t break off in your hand.

    And you can’t buy any machine today, from anybody, without having more problems. Apart from Diebold’s problems, SOME COMPANY HAS TO MAKE THE MACHINES, and any company who does will be accused by the left of being some kind of Halliburton clone. It will turn out that Ralph Reed used to own some of their stock, therefore the whole thing is a ghastly plot.

  2. I don’t have a problem with E-voting if it was confirmable. By that I mean done by SS number. Every vote should be registered and saved to the SS number and accessible by the voter at later date by their SS personal info. They do it with Tax returns a lot more in depth that a freekin voter slip. There is no reason why votes must be anonymous we don’t go around rounding up the known losers so what gives except the fact of the voting being left wide open to fraud.

    If every vote was done by SS you could easily go give the needed info register your one vote get or print your receipt then if later on say (Florida) there is question you go in check your vote if it don’t match your receipt you call the proper authority.

    I don’t trust any company or government office to confirm votes authenticity I however would trust millions of citizens to check their vote online or at the library ect.. for proper register. You can buy a company or gov org you can’t buy 320million citizens somebody will tell.

    Anonymous voting is something from the dark ages when the idea of disagreeing with the gov could cost your life. We are well past that mentality. Besides electronic voting would mean speed and ease that could open up voting procedure to some fresh thinking.

    Maybe we could start having run off voting to break this 2 party system and get some fresh ideas hell maybe even some change.

    Even better maybe more national votes for bills and plans. Devisive issues our politicians cant close put it to the people. Rigth or wrong we are not children or sheep to be led like they believe.

    I think it would be cool to drop the Senate and Congress and instead have multiple national votes in between Gov channels like say PBS running loops of Bill X pro/con vote day X. Write bills vote local pass then state pass then national pass then law. All the way Gov TV local, State, National running loops of pro/con in lamen terms for each bill proposed. Again make your own poison you cant corrupt 320 million people.

    Yeah I am a dreamer I’m one of those dum f*cks who believe the power rest in the people not the gov. And the people will choose whats right in the long run and the elite’s need to decide for the people (for thier own good) is just some holdover myth from the king and queen days.

  3. Glen – e-Voting is a notional issue because of HAVA, the “Help America Vote Act” which mandates new technology friendly to the blind and disabled be used to record votes. Through shocking coincidence, e-voting technology was newly available at the time and it presented what were seen as easy solutiuons to the problems.

    C-Low, the problem is that a private, anonymous secret vote is still considered to be the foundation of our political process. That’s not going to change any time soon.


  4. C-Low,

    You’re certainly dreaming (or at least living a sheltered life) if you don’t think there are places where have the govt find out how you voted could cost you plenty of misery (if not your life.)

    Not to mention, runoff voting is a cure that is definitely worse than the disease. Sure, everybody loves to bash our “two-party” system, but how many of us have actually lived in a place whose parliamentary rules allows lots of splinter parties to thrive? I’ll take our system over that, any day.

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