What’s Wrong with this Picture?

See also the Voting Machine Story Link Collection

So the voting machine story is starting to be talked about by more and more people in more and more places – another major story driven by webloggers. I’ve written about it here, here, here, here and maybe a few other times – there are a number of links to other sources in that last one. Atrios and Sideshow, Bartcop and Testify! have also been writing about this, as have a number of others. (Let me kow and I’ll add a link to you.)

For now let’s not get hung up on whether Nebraska’s Hagel, or Georgia’s Chambliss or anyone else won in 2002 because something was rigged. There is no way to know, and it’s over, and nothing is going to change anything. Instead, let’s just look at what we have here:

– Really rich, far right-wing “Christian Nation” fanatics involved in the ownership of the companies that make the voting machines. That alone should set off alarm bells.

– Electronic voting machines that leave no verifiable, auditable trail beyond what the machine reports as the vote count. You can’t verify that whatever was recorded as your vote was what you actually voted, and there is no way to do a recount of the totals other than what the voting machine itself reports. That alone should set off alarm bells.

– Voting machines that come with contracts forbidding looking at the code, so there is no way to check what the machines are actually doing. You can’t look at the code that comes with the machines to see if it is set up to download special code on election day. You can’t set one up on election day to see if it is downloading code, unless you steal the machine. (And there are ways to tell if the machine is being checked. For example, you don’t send code to any machine that someone working for the company isn’t looking at, in a polling place, and checking that the modem line isn’t monitored.) These contracts alone should set off alarm bells.

– These are voting machines with modems, supposedly to report results, but modems can receive as well as send. The RAM can’t be checked because you have to turn it off to move it to check what’s in RAM, so the contents of RAM are wiped. And you can’t run pre-election tests because the machines might be testing for the right time-and-date before downloading special code.

Who would have imagined that any district would EVER buy such machines? But they do. What competitive company would design such a thing? But they did. The unaccountability of results is suspicious enough, but when you learn WHO is involved with these companies this goes over the top.

This is an easy situation to fix. Demand that voting machines come with a paper printout that the voter looks at to verify that the vote was recorded correctly, and puts this paper record in a ballot box that is watched. That’s all there is to it. Why in the world don’t these machines come with this simple, common-sense security measure?

Dan Gilmore writes in Saturday’s column,

The right to vote — and for that vote to be counted with integrity — is at the heart of liberty. People are already skeptical. If we continue on this path, pure cynicism will corrode what’s left of public trust in an already frayed system.

Skepticism is the least of it. Paranoid nutcases like me will let our imaginations take us a lot further than just skepticism when we see “Christian Nation” fanatics buying up the voting machine companies and pushing unauditable voting systems on the public. Oh yeah, we can.