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Sex in the Sub City
Do Electronic Voting Machines Dream of Paper Ballots?


cheap shot of the month

I know that politics, and, in particular, electronic voting machines, are not the sexiest of topics – since when have I ever taken the title of this column literally anyway? – so please forgive me. However, I cannot think of another issue at the moment that is more important or urgent. The fact is that the 2000 election, due to serious manipulation and fraud by the republicans in Florida and elsewhere, the ridiculous timelines placed on the recounts to ensure that not all votes would be tallied, and the 5-4 majority in the conservative-leaning Supreme Court, was not a fair contest. Bottom line: we were robbed.

And where were our saviors? Our defenders? Nowhere. The democrats let it happen. And this time, this time, what have they done to protect us, to make sure it doesn’t happen again? Jack shit. After Florida, the big push to safeguard our democracy was to allow private, unregulated companies to produce electronic voting machines. Yes, our government decided to put the fate of our elections in the hands of corporations, those oh-so-trustworthy conglomerates who, as we all know, care more about people than profits, and have the best interests of their customers and employees in mind. Right. And last night I licked Laura’s bush.

The biggest manufacturer of electronic voting machines, who just so happens to have gotten the exclusive rights to distribute machines in Florida and in Ohio (2004’s likely Florida), is Diebold. Diebold’s CEO, aside from donating generously to Bush, has publicly pledged to do everything in his power to make sure he wins the election. Hello? Why is anyone not shitting their pants over this? Our democracy is in the hands of a man who has promised to help Bush win. And guess what? He probably will.

Electronic voting machines, you see, leave no paper trail. Thus, one can enter in the name of a candidate – John Kerry, for example – and have no way of knowing that their vote has gone to him or to his opponent. Or, for that matter, if it has even been counted at all. This might sound like pure paranoia, if not for the fact that when these machines were tested independently – not by Diebold – serious, serious flaws were discovered.

Scientists at John Hopkins conducted their own investigation, and discovered that they were incredibly easy to infiltrate. A common hacker, or a company employee with access to the machines, could take the vote that was cast, change it, and then cover their tracks in seconds. Other tests have yielded similar results. And Diebold’s response to this? Not true they say. The security is tight they claim. At least publicly. In private, they have a different story. In a series of leaked internal memos, they admit that problems exist, and that they have no intention of fixing them. Instead, they feel that their resources will be used more effectively on a p.r. campaign to curtail all the negative publicity. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? To view the memos, follow this link:

For more memos about their role in the 2000 election, follow this one:

For further proof of the machine’s failings, let’s look at the 2002 mid-term elections in Georgia, which, just before, had installed the machines. Max Cleland, the much-beloved senator, who was severely wounded in Vietnam, lost to a relative unknown, while he was highly favored to win. Even more strange, Georgia elected a republican governor. Not so odd on the surface, until you discover that the last time they had someone other than a democrat as governor was in 1872! And no one’s fucking going nuts about this?

So what can be done? California, at least, has decided that the machines cannot be trusted, and has banned their use upon further investigation and until the flaws can be fixed. Other states are considering similar initiatives. To make sure this happens, you can call your senators and representatives and speed the process along. You can also go to verifiedvoting.org to register your support for the cause, and to find out how to take action in your community. Blackboxvoting.com is another great site to find all the latest information on this important issue.

Think of how different the world would be now if we had just fought a little harder in 2000. And if you think the same thing isn’t going to happen in 2004, you’re nuts. These guys are willing to do anything, anything at all, to win, stealing, altering and eliminating our votes included. If we stand up to them and fight for our right to a free society and fair elections, we can win this thing. I’ve already promised if Kerry wins to run through the streets naked. And if international respect, safety, security, a strong economy and a fair, accountable government are not enough to convince you to devote your time and energy to this issue, I hope the opportunity to see my penis is. Whatever it takes my friends, whatever it takes.


--Russ Josephs

E-mail: [email protected]

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[email protected] | June 2004 | Issue 51
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