Alibi V.15 No.26 • June 29-July 5, 2006 

Feature

Peeking Inside a Black Box

Election fraud in the United States of America

From the days following the Civil War when former slaves first got the right to vote—but didn't really get the right to vote—the U.S. has a history of cheating its citizens during elections. This is a fact. But since we've supposedly straightened up our act in the past several decades, we usually assume that votes are not being inflated, deflated or suppressed. The idea of a vast right-wing conspiracy is laughable: Only the hippiest of paranoid, drug-addled hippies would buy that, right? Well, let's look at the facts.

For starters, our government contains no agency or body to oversee the voting machine industry. Now here's an eyebrow-raising roll call of conflicts of interest: Two companies, ES&S and Ohio-based Diebold, count 80 percent of all votes. The president of Diebold and the vice president of ES&S are brothers, while the chairman and CEO of Diebold was a Bush campaign organizer and donor. Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel owns 35 percent of ES&S and was elected into office based on votes cast on ES&S machines, for which he got into a bit of trouble with the Senate Ethics Committee. Almost all of the voting errors detected and reported in the past election favored Republican candidates (see Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s excellent article “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?” in the June issue of Rolling Stone at rollingstone.com).

On top of that, for security reasons, California has banned the use of Diebold machines. Now, isn't it at least slightly possible that there could be some funny code in action during the use of unverifiable voting machines which are manufactured by supporters of and members of the Republican party? Furthermore, if no third party is overseeing the software in the first place, how is your average poll worker or county clerk going to recognize subtle yet purposeful manipulations of results?

We should all thank sweet Jesus that New Mexico will, by the November midterm election, convert to optical scan paper ballots which are digitally and physically recorded, instead of touch screen machines which are not able to legitimately verify votes. Now we just have to decide what's worse: the fact that hardly anyone bothers to vote, or the evidence that indicates many of the people who do aren't having their votes properly counted.