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ISSUE #114
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Features

ArrowSchlep Boys
Failing forward in one act

Allan Uthman

ArrowThe Britney Budget
Matt Taibbi

ArrowEeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe
Blogger and journalist Brad Friedman of The Brad Blog on the hijacking of democracy and more

ArrowObama
The best BS artist since Slick Willy

Matt Taibbi

ArrowSweet Nothings
Lies my paper told me

Allan Uthman

ArrowMenace in Seat 36F
Based on a True Story

Michael J. Smith

ArrowBEAST gets poetic on dat ass!
Saul Williams schools us on Hip Hop and our choice of lunch

ArrowCelebrity Buttholes Will Be the End of Us
A. Monkey

ArrowThe BEAST Melanin / Electability Index

ArrowThe Truth Spin
Sometimes, honesty really is the best policy

Allan Uthman

ArrowTV Highlights
CBSs Numb3rs signals the end of the end of the American Empire

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Departments
ArrowKino Korner: Movies
The Abandoned, Wild Hogs, The Number 23, Zodiac, Reno 911!: Miami, Amazing Grace, Black Snake Moan, Shooter, The Astronaut Farmer, Inland Empire

ArrowBEAST-O-Scopes
As divined by your ethereal guide

Arrow[sic] - Letters
The Pussy of the Christ, How Great We Art, Dumb Shit, PhD, All You Need is Loathe and more

 

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

continued - page 2

The undervote story in Florida contrasts nicely with one I just read on your site about New Mexico, that minority undervoting there dropped 85% when they started using paper ballots.

You bet, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to highlight that story when I got that information over the weekend. You’ve got these folks running around saying minorities are better served by touch screen. Well hello, this data tells you quite differently, so I was quite pleased when that came out.

I’ve read that these glitches nearly always skew Republican. Is that really true?

Well, they do, unfortunately. Not always, but quite frequently they do. I don’t call them glitches, by the way; I call them failures, and it’s a bit of a bugaboo of mine, because it’s always “glitches,” “hiccups,” “snafus.” But the reason these are happening is because we have a system where there is nobody, absolutely nobody minding the store. Nobody in America gets to test these machines from top to bottom. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Not the USEAC, the Election Assistance Commission, no one gets to test these machines that are used in our America elections. It’s an absolute scandal. This is secret software that is counting our votes in a public democracy. It an absolutely astounding thing when you look at it.

Now if this is true, why aren’t the Democrats putting everything they’ve got into correcting the situation? Why aren’t they bringing their full force to bear on this?

I have been digging and digging on this story and fighting with Democrats on this and fighting with Holt’s office on this. I recommend an article I wrote for Alternet.org called “False Choices in the Debate on Voting Technology.” It used to be the disabled issue: “Oh, disabled voters need to be able to vote privately and independently.” But that doesn’t explain why everyone else in the world has to use these DRE machines, and it doesn’t even explain why anybody has to use DRE machines, because there are also what are called ballot marking devices; these are essentially touch screen systems but all they do is print a ballot and then you take that ballot and count it with op scan, by hand, whatever you want. So those work equally well for disabled folks, so [DRE advocates] sort of don’t have that anymore. The latest argument, which is rather extraordinary, is this language minority issue, that somehow folks who don’t speak English as their first language are better served by touch screen than by op scan. It makes no sense. You can print out a ballot in Chinese or Vietnamese just as easily as anything else. But somehow or another these guys seem to be putting forward a rather disingenuous argument that minorities can read it on a touch screen better than on a piece of paper.

And as you said, the ballot marking software would work just as well for that anyway.

Yea, if you had to do that. But the problem is, when you use any kind of device like that—and this is what we saw week after week in ‘06, the primaries and the generals—when those machines break down, legally registered voters cannot vote. These systems are disenfranchising—left, right, black, white, I don’t care—when they don’t work, Americans cannot vote. And this happened, week after week. We saw thousands, if not millions of people that this happened to. And remember, if you’ve got let’s say five touch screen machines in a precinct, if even one of them breaks down, now your line is going to be increased exponentially, and election day is a work day and so forth. So these machines are just disenfranchising, versus a paper ballot system. With an op scan system for example, you can walk in and vote anytime. Doesn’t matter. If a machine breaks down, it doesn’t matter. They can either bring in another machine or save the votes in a secure box until later. But with these DRE machines, when they break, you can’t vote, and that is just a brutal menace to democracy in my opinion, and that’s why a lot of the folks who had previously supported the Holt bill in its previous iteration—in the last Congress it was called HR-550—a lot of those folks have said, “Well, given what we have now learned in 2006, I can no longer support a bill that does not ban DRE systems, period.”

Why do you think Diebold has always been singled out, at least when this sort of stuff is mentioned in the media? Do you think that Diebold is any worse than ES&S or Sequoia?

No, I do not. I think that all of these companies should be ashamed of themselves, frankly. Their behavior has been atrocious. The amount of money that they are taking from the taxpayer to run our democracy without feeling that they need be open in any way, frankly, is a crime. And the way that each of them have lied in their own way about what is actually going on with these systems. I think Diebold has gotten most of notice likely for a couple of reasons, beginning with the statement by CEO Wally O’Dell, who is no longer there, the fundraising letter to the Republicans promising to deliver the state of Ohio to George W Bush—mission accomplished. So that certainly got folks to notice Diebold, and as well, they left their source code sitting out on a public Internet site, this great 150-year-old security company. So they were really the first one that folks were able to look at and see the code.

And there were those internal emails too that were alarming, about faking presentations and that sort of thing.

Oh yeah, and instructing Diebold how to lie about what they had done in California, where they were decertified. And of course, when people looked at their code, we saw all sorts of backdoors and holes. And in fact—this was something I broke at Brad Blog back in October 2005, and it was amazing that no one else reported this up until then: I have a source inside Diebold who I refer to as “Dieb Throat,” and this source pointed me towards a page, sitting right out there on the web at a Department of Homeland Security site, called the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team. They issued a warning in August of 2004 that there was a backdoor in the Global Election Management System, the central tabulator machine that is used in all Diebold systems, that allows a malicious person to get in there and change anything they want. No one reported that for a full year, before or after the election, in any of the mainstream media. The media coverage on this stuff has just been abominable. It’s only slightly better, but it’s still pretty bad.

page 3

 

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