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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Democrats Got Elected Despite Our Election System, Not Because of It

Tell me which part of this statement isn't true:

There was an election a week ago. Democrats won big, Republicans lost big, and everything went great!

That's right, everything did not go great. At about 2:00 CT, the number of people who had called the voter protection line at 1-566-OUR-VOTE were as follows (as reported by Brad Blog):

By Total Calls [to 1-866-OUR-VOTE]
State Calls
PA 841
NY 399
MI 313
NC 239
CA 228
OH 225

AZ 164
MA 142
GA 131
IL 129
Total 2,811

That's nearly three thousand screwed up votes before most people even got off work. Like I said at the time, completely FUBAR.

Network World had this fun little story:

Maybe there are reports out there of these screw-ups benefiting Democratic candidates at the expense of their Republican opponents, but I just don’t come across them. From TPM CafĂ©: “My wife just came home from voting here in Webster Groves MO. She used the electronic touch-screen voting system. . . She touched Claire McCaskill's picture and the machine recorded a vote for Jim Talent. She then called one of the people running the polling center who helped her correct the problem. My wife then had to call the person over another time after it recorded her vote a Republican again. In her frustration she asked the person who was responsible for the design of this system. The polling person leaned in very close to my wife and whispered, 'We're f----d.' "

People For the American Way has a page of examples -- a lot of examples -- of voting problems. In Miami-Dade county Florida, "Voter had to use multiple voting cards before being able to cast successful ballot. This happened to everyone voter could see," in Arapahoe, Colorado, "Caller recieved two phone calls stating that her polling location had changed. She went to the new polling location and was told she was in the wrong place. She was also asked her party affiliation by an unknown person. She went to the correct polling place and was not on the list. She voted provisionally. Caller had conversations with other voters who recieved a similar call. This also happened in the 2004 election. She is sure that she is registered to vote."

And it wasn't just the machines, Republican dirty tricks were rampant. "A voting judge in Washington state telephoned to say that he received a voicemail from a woman purporting to be Maria Cantwell which instructed him to vote in the wrong precinct," and, "Sonoma, CA: The caller reported that several students, all of whom speak English as a second language, told her that their houses received intimidating calls the evening prior to the election saying 'don't vote.' The caller did not know whether the calls were live or recorded."

Just because the system worked doesn't mean it works well. The media was doing a good job of reporting these problems until the story became the Democratic landslide. And it's possible that if it weren't a landslide, these tricks and glitches would've thrown more than one race to Republicans. In fact, it may have in at least one case.

Florida Times-Union:

Elections officials began a second day of recounting votes in a southwest Florida congressional race marked by a close margin and questions about the accuracy of ATM-style touch-screen voting machines.

National attention is focused on Sarasota County where electronic voting machines reported 18,382 people - about one in eight voters - did not vote for either Republican Vern Buchanan or Democrat Christine Jennings, but made choices in other races. That rate was much higher than other counties in the district.

Sarasota elections supervisor Kathy Dent expected the electronic recount to be finished late Tuesday. But she expected recount activities to continue right up to Saturday's state-mandated results deadline. The recount involves precincts in five counties.

Surprise, surprise, it's Katherine Harris's House seat. She had to vacate the seat to run for Senate. Who reading this voted, but didn't vote in their congressional race? Buchanan currently has a massive 377 vote lead -- a number easily affected by effed up electronic ballots. The machines will just run the numbers again and spit out an identical result. The race hinges on provisional and military ballots; i.e., paper ballots.

Our election system is still screwed up and corrupt and that means our democracy is screwed up and corrupt. And the worst part is that it's screwed up in favor of phony patriots who use words like 'democracy' and 'freedom' as if they owned them. Hell, they don't even mean them when they use them. Is this the democracy that people are supposed to be dying for? When we're told that people in Iraq are fighting to protect our freedom, I have to ask, when did 'freedom' mean election fraud, rigged machines, and disenfranchisement? When did it come to mean the freedom to vote for the candidate of Republicans' choosing?

If we don't use this opportunity, this Democratic majority, to fix our democracy, it may never happen. Every election the fixers fail to fix is just one more lesson on how to fix elections. As we do nothing to stop them, they perfect their art. My worry is that we'll look at the dems in congress and think everything's fine. Everything is not fine. If things continue the way they're going, we'll have a sham democracy, Like Iran. The Mullahs will choose which candidates we're allowed to vote for and our choice will be between two slightly different shades of red.


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