Voting Machines vs. ATMs

There are reports of Democratic votes being changed to Republican votes by electronic voting machines in Georgia and Texas, two closely watched races.   Amid record early voting by young people and “people of color”:

… Politico is reporting glitches with voting machines in Texas and Georgia have caused some votes for Democrats to be switched for the Republican candidate or deleted. Experts have said the error is a technical malfunction. Voters and civil rights groups in Texas and Georgia have filed complaints in what are two of the most closely watched states this midterm election.   source

This fucking shit again?

You will never get an extra twenty from an ATM, and you almost always will get a receipt, but the same company’s voting machines… well, it’s not so simple, you see. In 2000 a company called Diebold made many of the voting machines, they also made the ATM I used to use at my local bank.   Diebold argued trade secrets and proprietary information when investigators wanted to look at the software of their suspect voting machines.   The executives of Diebold were unabashed conservatives, big Republican donors, and their proprietary software occasionally displayed a glitch that counted a Democratic vote as a Republican one.   Shit happens.   If their banking machines had dispensed an extra twenty here and there, Diebold would have been out of business.   I always thought the easy cure was paper receipts showing the actual votes, like a detailed ATM receipt, one kept in a lock box at the local voting place, the other copy taken home with the voter.   Then machine counts and paper receipts could be compared to verify actual votes.  Of course that ain’t going to happen.

In 2000, in south Florida, my father cast his vote for Al Gore on a computerized voting machine.   The screen read “click here to confirm your vote for George W. Bush”.  My father had bought a computer a few years earlier and knew to look for a “back” arrow, or “undo”.   He found a way to return to the previous screen, voted for Gore again and this time it offered him the choice of finalizing his vote for Gore.  “At least I had minimal computer skills,” he said afterwards, “how many 75 year-old Broward County Democrats do you suppose wound up involuntarily voting for the candidate they had gone to vote against?”   A fair question we’ll never know the answer to.

In Georgia and Texas, two very keenly watched battles are unfolding on election day and there are “technical glitches” in both states coincidentally resulting in fewer Democratic votes and more Republican ones.  It is 18 years on from the historically suspect 2000 election and they are still fucking around with people’s votes.   I won’t go into the recent criminal (and partisan) 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court that the Voting Rights Act of 1965, made to enforce the often scoffed at Fifteenth Amendment passed almost a century earlier, no longer needs enforcement because we are now a post-racial society who had an illegitimate Muslim president whose father was an African.  Racism at law is over, said the Court, and then every state with a racist, or simply Republican, legislature passed new voting restrictions that disproportionately affected minorities of every kind.

“People don’t have faith in our democracy,” cynics point out.  So do clear-eyed realists.   It’s hard to have faith in a pinball machine that always shows TILT.   The Koch brothers, whose fifty year long game is finally paying off bigly, run ads on Yankee games that brag about Koch Industries’ commitment to a level playing field where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.  Could be a glitch in the ad copy, they might have meant a “leveled playing field.”   When you push big, unpopular ideas that sodomize all but the privileged few, born booted and spurred to ride the rest of us, it is best to make sure your people cannot be easily turned out of power when their hideous faces become too grotesque to endure.

Click here to confirm your vote for Mr. Hitler.   Have a nice day, and thank you for voting, your vote is very important to us!

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