Nov. 10th, 2004
Another coincidence...?  

"I believe in coincidence. Coincidences happen every day. But I don't trust coincidences."
-Garak to Dr. Bashir, DS9



The election mishaps and errors that are coming to light are distressing. To think that our democratic elections may have been manipulated, even by error, is disconcerting. Of course, there are system glitches—anyone who works with technology knows this. That's why you plan for them and expect them. You program for them, you trap errors, you spend countless hours on security. When you're talking about something important, say like a financial statement, something that goes to auditors, or reports that go to your CEO, you put in safeguard after safeguard after safeguard. Point of sale systems are meticulously QA'ed so sales aren't lost and to prevent cards from being overcharged. In the worst of cases where failsafes can't correct the problem, you halt for administrator intervention to prevent corruption of data and log everything so that the problem can be traced. You know that you can expect but can't always depend on a machine to add 1+1 and come up with 2. Failing memory cards, bad power, an overheated CPU all can cause electronic systems to behave unpredictably. Unnoticed problems and mistakes cost money—lots of money, even your job. You want lots of checks and balances on important systems. At the end of the day, you at least have to be able to say you did everything you could to have anticipated for common problems. So...

This is our electoral process. I have to ask: Where are the safeguards? Where are the checksums? For God's sake, where are the audit logs? Conspicuously never written into the software? On Wall Street, financial systems have to record everything—every transaction, every ounce of minutia. Everything is logged, right down to their IM conversations. They're required to by law. We're not required to, but our web servers record every detail of every visit. If needed, we can reconstruct everything a given user did on a given visit and reconstruct his visit from when he arrived at our site until when he left or closed his browser. It's tedious, but we can do it. So when problems occur or complaints arise, we can back track and find out exactly what happened. For this reason, when equipment fails or programs crash, we may lose time, but we won't ultimately lose orders. And the results of our web traffic can hardly shape the direction of the citizens of our country. So tell me again, why did Diebold, a company that builds ATMs and understands this better than anyone, build an unauditable election system?

if these were all mere random mistakes, glitches, and errors, which they could in theory be, then probability theory applies and tells us that all sides should have an equal number of glitches, mistakes, and errors. The errors, while distressing and unacceptable, should wash—or at least come closer to it. But so far they don't—not even close. Of course, this could be explained by coincidence, but I agree with the Cardassian: I don't trust coincidences.

A fair electoral process is the bedrock of our system of government. Without it, we stand for nothing because we become the very thing we so love to ridicule. So how was this allowed to have happened? How were these glaring conflicts of interest overlooked? Know that this isn't about this past election, the "errors" likely won't make a difference one way or the other. But this is about our future.

"Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." -Joseph Stalin





Did you know....

  • 80% of all votes in America are counted by o­nly two companies: Diebold and ES&S.
  • There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.
  • The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.
  • The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."
  • 35% of ES&S is owned by Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, who became Senator based o­n votes counted by ES&S machines.
  • Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.
  • Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.
  • Diebold is based in Ohio and supplies almost all the voting machines there.
  • None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio.
  • 30% of all U.S. votes are carried out o­n unverifiable touch screen voting machines.
  • Bush's Help America Vote Act of 2002 has as its goal to replace all machines with the new electronic touch screen systems.
  • Republican Senator Chuck Hagel owns 35% of ES&S and was caught lying about it
  • ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes.
  • Exit polls for the 2004 elections were accurate within 1% or less in areas where ballot machines were used.
  • Major exit poll data discrepancies were noted in counties where touch screen machines were used, especially in Ohio and Florida.

    Click here for the full article text

    Also, see this story.
 
 
Mood: concerned
Listening to: Story of the Year - Sidewalks
 
 
( Post a new comment )
JDean_81jdean_81 on November 10th, 2004 - 05:39 pm
yeah, I read about that whole thing and also watched the li'l documentary about the machines and how they suck! Not cool at all.
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driftwoodsun on November 10th, 2004 - 07:01 pm
So, what do we do about it?

We need to do something about it.

At the very least, I want to be a thorn in these bastards sides.
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The People's Exhibit Adavidology on November 10th, 2004 - 09:39 pm
well, i think we have to quit whining about the election as "the people" (bless their simple little minds) will grow tired of hearing about it. but i think we need to insist that investigations to election irregularities get looked at and that we don't back down when people start whining about "getting over it" and other nonsense.

I think that's largely why they think they can get away with these things. These guys know full well that the people lack the resolve to follow through, and that they have amnesia every 4 years.
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eviltickles on November 10th, 2004 - 09:31 pm
nothing says serious political discourse like a reference to star trek :-P
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The People's Exhibit A: geekdavidology on November 10th, 2004 - 09:36 pm
i can be such a geek.
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eviltickles on November 10th, 2004 - 09:44 pm
definitions
i think you actually qualify as a nerd:

nerd: smart and tech/scifi savvy
geek: just smart
dork: just tech/scifi savvy
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Justin Carceratedmofo69 on November 10th, 2004 - 09:59 pm
that's one of the biggest problem with politics... the voting system is HIGHLY flawed.

that and the rich people always win no matter how awful they are... although i think that one's worse.
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The People's Exhibit Adavidology on November 10th, 2004 - 10:59 pm
Yeah... I'm starting to think they may have something when they talk about government-funded elections and banning all private and personal contributions.
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