Thursday, November 18, 2004

Later On, We'll Conspire...

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Electronic voting in 2004 suffered “a few glitches” that have been exaggerated by “Internet conspiracy theorists” who are “sore losers.” And thus, we’re all just wasting our time by insisting on recounts in New Hampshire and Ohio (and hopefully Florida and maybe, just for kicks, New Mexico).

With scant few exceptions that’s the line taken by mainstream media, when they’ve chosen to look at this story at all.

But if you want to read something really chilling, check out the tally of electronic voting screw-ups by vendor at Let's start with Election Systems & Software. Voters Unite lists 26 pages of ES&S errors – 22 pages worth over the last two years, with around half involving optical scan machines. The litany of foul-ups includes failing to count thousands of votes, counting votes that were never cast, counting votes twice, reversing vote totals so that Candidate A was assigned the votes cast for Candidate B, and assigning all the votes to a single candidate. In other words, just about any kind of mistake you can imagine.

Need I add that the same models of voting machine were used a few weeks ago in Florida, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Ohio? I didn’t think so.

You’ll find a similar litany of incompetence or worse for Diebold (18 pages), Sequoia (18 pages), Microvote (6 pages), and others. These are just the screw-ups we know about. And we only know about them because somebody looked at the results and said “something in here smells like bad feta cheese,” then went back to check them. In other words, they audited the results and, when possible, performed a manual recount.

So there’s really no need to dust for the slime-encrusted fingerprints of Gollum (Karl Rove), or sniff out deliberate malfeasance by RNC-friendly executives at Diebold et al. A history of simple, mind-blowing stupidity is reason enough.

I suspect if we’re able to dig deep enough we may actually uncover errors that favor Senator Kerry. (Maybe.) That’s something I’d like to see.

In other news: Here’s a nifty song-and-slide presentation that probably sums up the feelings of all of us sore-losing conspiracy theorists. (Just don’t listen to it in the same room with the kiddies.) Thanks to John B. for bringing this to my attention.


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