GOP chums give new meaning to the term 'secret ballot'
Let's have an election. I'll provide the voting machine. You push the red button to vote for my friend, or the green button to vote for his opponent. When the polls close, my machine will announce the totals. You will have no way to tell as you exit the voting booth whether your vote was accurately recorded; and since there are no paper ballots, there can be no recount. You'll just have to trust my machines. And don't bother asking to see their inner workings; that's a trade secret. I make these things for a living, you know. I can assure you, they work very well. But just in case, every machine has a modem built in. That way, if anything goes wrong on election day, I can dial in and fix it on the spot.
Think this is satire? Think again. All over the country, a common reaction to the Florida 2000 debacle is installation of electronic voting machines that leave no paper trail and are controlled by computers whose programming is not available for inspection.
And the threat of fraud is far from hypothetical. Writing for the Smirking Chimp, Thom Hartmann summarizes a number of surprise Republican wins, all tallied in whole or in part by these inscrutable computers--including a few crucial races that gave the GOP the Senate in 2000.
The machines just happen to be made by companies with close ties to the GOP and the religious right; in fact, one candidate--Chuck Hagel of Nebraska--"left his job as head of an electronic voting machine company to run as a long-shot candidate for the U.S. Senate." Guess whose electronic voting machines gave him "stunning" upset victories in both the Republican primary and the general election?
Let's review. The programming of the voting machines is secret. There is no way for the voter to know his vote was correctly registered, and no way to verify the count when it's done. The head of the company that made the machines runs for office, and defies the pollsters not once but twice when his own machines declare him the winner.
There's a quote popularly attributed to Josef Stalin: "The people who vote decide nothing; the people who count the votes decide everything." Evidence that Stalin actually said this is slim to nonexistent. But whoever said it, it's true enough. It is essential to democracy that we vote in private--and no less essential that we count the votes in public.