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June 15, 2005

No Exit

Salon's Farhad Manjoo writes a very lucid summary of the exit poll debate to date.

Posted by Rick at June 15, 2005 09:00 AM

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I'd love to read the article, but salon's "watch a short ad and then you can read this" system isn't working for me. It must be cookie-based and trying to set cookies I've already blocked... ugh.

Posted by: LotharBot at June 15, 2005 02:32 PM

The integrity of election results is at the heart of a democracy. Thus, it behooves everyone who believes in democracy to ensure transparency of the voting process and for officeholders and their fundraisers to divest themselves of interests in companies participating in vote counting. To dismiss critics is to deny the fact that there are problems. In part, it is the ease with which these problems could be addressed combined with the resistance to such changes that make critics very suspicious. For example:
- Ballots from many voting machines cannot be audited to assess the machines’ accuracy.
- Voting machines have proven unreliable in the past. Dallas, Hawaii, Alabama, and California all had election results that resulted in recounts, voter disqualification or outright losers declared winners in recent elections - all due to problems with voting machines.
- Attempts to check the reliability of Diebold machines at the company’s warehouse by one of the company’s former programmers revealed that every single one had problems, some severe enough that in the end one out of every five had to be discarded.
- The software used to operate many voting machines is hackable. In fact, the unsecured FTP site of the biggest electronic voting machine provider was hacked by some kids and the source code for the vote-counting programs was posted on the internet.
- Republican fundraisers own companies that manufacture voting machines, and Republican national officeholders own significant interests in some of these companies. For example, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska was (and may still be for all I know) chairman of ES&S, one of the biggest voting machine corporations. Hagel did not disclose his ownership to the SEC after he was elected in an upset, and his machines were used exclusively to count votes in his own election.
- Requests to audit ballots in Florida were met with the charge by Jeb Bush’s administration that such an attempt would “undermine voters’ confidence” and ultimately denied.
- On the eve of two successive presidential elections it was revealed that the same Bush administration mistakenly included thousands of blacks on its list of felons who cannot vote, despite being previously alerted about the problem. As you may know, blacks tend to vote Democrat.
- In the last presidential election it is estimated that 1.9 million people cast ballots that were never counted. Of these, it is thought that 1 million voters were black, who overwhelmingly vote Democrat.

The trends toward favoring Republicans over Democrats may be just trends. But why not assure that by requiring verifiable ballots and divestment of interests in vote-counting companies by candidates and fundraisers? Then we wouldn’t be left with ambiguous statistical results and complicated arguments about the accuracy of exit polls that most people don’t understand.

Posted by: dem at June 17, 2005 09:32 AM