Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why I Have Little Faith In the Integrity Of American Elections

It may come as a shock to the typical low information uninvolved American voter, but the words of John McCain about the fabric of the American democracy being under attack, or whatever the fuck he said at the last debate along those lines, are true.

But, it’s not from the likes of community organizations like ACORN as McCain claims, but from the likes of the powerful corporate interest in this country who’s influence and tentacles reach out to control the message, the media and the actual voting machines that count the paperless ballots in our elections.

Naive Americans continue to refuse to acknowledge the fact that the computer machines that count and register our votes are badly compromised, unreliable, controlled and designed by ultra right wing companies with a agenda and not subject to the level of complete scrutiny required to even come close to being a trusted method of accurately tallying votes. These companies ask us to trust them, given the evidence why would anyone in their right mind do that?

As Election Day nears right wing entities in the press continue to make a case for widespread voter fraud and tightening polls as proof of a close race. Pollsters like AP and Zogby argue the race is tightening even though most national polls show otherwise. Perhaps laying the narrative groundwork for a surprise comeback narrow victory by McCain.

Republican lawyers and election functionaries continue to attempt to suppress thousands and possibility even millions of votes by challenging voter registrations or the right to vote of individuals based on technicalities which they offer up in court. Friendly Republican Secretaries of State around the nation like in Colorado and Indiana, who serve as the watchdogs within their States, also join in right wing voter suppression parties.

Republicans know they cannot win elections if the real voter base is broadened. This Carl Rove hatched approach to participation by citizens in our democracy has for years now been to LIMIT, not expand the number of voters in this country.

Because an expanded electorate means Republican candidates will lose almost every time. By not counting ALL the votes in the 2000 election Bush won Florida which tipped the electoral vote balance in his favor. The conservative leaning Supreme Court failed to act. Thus making a pin headed partisan and now discredited Republican Secretary of State in Florida Katherine Harris the final judge in defeat of Al Gore. Fast forward four years to 2004 and the same thing happened in Ohio where more than 350,000 mostly John Kerry votes didn’t get counted, blocked by a Republican Secretary of State and Bush once again won the election. Kerry ended up losing Ohio by some 110,000 votes.

But this is old news to most progressives.

As unbelievable as it may seem in the nearly 8 years since the debacle of Florida in 2000 nothing much has been done to fix the problem. What is more frightening is that Republicans still know that in a close election where it may come down to a few key battleground states like Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Indiana or Colorado the situation is ripe for the same sort of last minute voter suppression tactics that could swing the election.

How, you may ask, could this happen? Well it’s because the Republicans have no interested in fixing it. Stealing elections, although not invented exclusively by their party, is now a way of life for them.

And it gets even worse because corporate controlled machines still count the votes in this country. These machines have been shown to be unreliable or compromised and subject to tampering. The manufacturers like Diebold continue to keep secret the software codes use by these machines, arguing that their copy rights take priority over all else even the integrity of our votes and therefore our democracy. Relying on these unreliable machines makes the outcome of Federal elections unprovable, no matter what the media reports as fact.

So what’s the solution? Simply put it’s paper ballots counted by real humans. Although this method may seem outmoded or cumbersome in this high tech age of instant gratification it is the only real way that America can have voting and election integrity that is verifiable.

It is going to be interesting to see how this Presidential election plays out in the next week. Will it come down to one battleground State where large numbers of vote end up being suppressed? Will there by widespread problems with voting machine tallies?

The fabric of our society is under attack because in America, the supposed beacon of democracy in the world, democracy is in fact under attack and badly compromised by flaws in our system of electing our representatives.

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