Sunday, January 06, 2008

New York Times Magazine's Comprehensive Piece
On Concerns Over Electronic Voting Quotes Adele

A little over a year ago, I told you about my friend Adele Eisner, and her tireless efforts as a guardian of our democracy. When I first met her and profiled her, more than 15 years ago in this piece, she was running for council in her little suburb in order to stand up against petty corruption. She eventually won that race, and she was on her way. But her activism has since blossomed to larger issues, and for the last couple of years at least she has been a tireless champion on behalf of voting integrity. You can learn more about that on her blog.

Today, the Times Magazine published a long and illuminating cover story about the concerns with electronic voting, and much of it focused on the epic problems in Cuyahoga County. Sure enough, Adele the Tireless was quoted. The article notes the following:
"The earliest critiques of digital voting booths came from the fringe — disgruntled citizens and scared-senseless computer geeks — but the fears have now risen to the highest levels of government. One by one, states are renouncing the use of touch-screen voting machines. California and Florida decided to get rid of their electronic voting machines last spring, and last month, Colorado decertified about half of its touch-screen devices. Also last month, Jennifer Brunner, the Ohio secretary of state, released a report in the wake of the Cuyahoga crashes arguing that touch-screens “may jeopardize the integrity of the voting process.”

I found that to be interesting phrasing. Careful centrists who count on establishment critiques to deliver all their revealed truths often have a way of calling anyone who refuses to see things their way--people such as Adele, for instance--as among the fringe or outside the mainstream. Adele may indeed once have been on the fringes. But isn't it funny how the rest of the world has finally caught up to her?


At 1:38 AM, Anonymous Some Guy on Bridge said...

Glenn Greenwald writes about this phenomenon a lot--corporate media tagging ideas as "out of the mainstream" while ignoring their own polls indicating substantial (or even majority) support for the same positions.

I direct your attention to a USA Today poll from July that shows over a third of Americans supporting impeachment of Bush--but you won't find USA Today referring to the impeachment movement in other than dismissive terms.

Same with Adele Eisner. She wants honestly run elections and they call her "the fringe." Are they saying the mainstream actually wants widespread election fraud?

At 2:59 AM, Blogger skovatch said...

I fail to see how switching back to optical scan voting on such short notice is going to make things better. All you are doing is replacing one computer system with another, and the software that scans the ballots is just as closed and unaudit-able as the Diebold systems are. I guess the comfort comes from knowing with certainty that your final ballot is indeed your vote, because you wrote on it yourself.

This year I decided to be a polling inspector for Santa Clara county in California, which like Cuyahoga, is switching from touch-screen to optical scan balloting because our Secretary of State also decertified touch screen systems (except for the blind -- our precinct will still have one machine.) I wrote our switch here and will likely write more.

I hope that one benefit of this change is that when the 'scared-senseless computer geeks' tell us that a computer-based system isn't secure or is unreliable we believe them. Imagine that -- people with actual experience with the technology should be listened to.

At 8:26 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Mr. Bridge, great point. The major media spent several years pretending that those opposed to the Iraq war were somehow in the fringe, when every poll showed they were among the majority. And yes, Scott, the piece in question does note that even those opposed to the touch screen systems have serious doubts about the decision to switch to optical scanners on such short notice. And good for you for doing your part to help. I hope everyone will follow your link and read about your experience with it.

At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Mr. Bluster said...

Might have been a clue when the CEO of Diebold announced in '03 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

Ramming through the use of machines with no auditing capability, plus a backdoor account was obviously not the way to go for any party wanting an honest election.

That's the modern GOP for you. I'd like to see a stake driven through its heart. Figuratively speaking, of course.

At 8:49 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

The GOP isn't going anywhere, of course, but we sure do need to be forever vigilant of its worst abuses. And there are so many from which to choose, aren't there?


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