Tuesday, August 3

Florida Elections - Arthur Andersen Style

by justmy2 @ 8/03/2004 11:45:00 PM

I was recently speaking to one of my good friends about the upcoming election, handicapping George Bush's and John Kerry's chances. After a few minutes of back and forth, we both jokingly stated "Kerry can't win even if he wins", in reference to the problems with electronic voting.

We're watching Diebold very carefully," [Conyers] said. "They shouldn't even have that contractor. They say they back Bush."

Conyers was referring to Walden O'Dell, the Diebold chairman who was criticized in 2003 for holding a $1,000-a-plate Republican fundraiser in his Columbus, Ohio, home and saying in his invitation letter that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

Even though independent studies have proven "Diebold Inc.'s touch-screen voting system carries a 'high risk of compromise' by computer hackers and untrained poll workers", there are still plans to use them during this year's election.

Now keep in mind, our conversation was still somewhat facetious. This is America right? Right? But then I run across this in today's NY Times.

Almost all the electronic records from the first widespread use of touch-screen voting in Miami-Dade County have been lost, stoking concerns that the machines are unreliable as the presidential election draws near.

The records disappeared after two computer system crashes last year, county elections officials said, leaving no audit trail for the 2002 gubernatorial primary. A citizens group uncovered the loss this month after requesting all audit data from that election.

It would be hilarious if it were not so serious. After everything that happened in 2000, you are telling me it took a citizen's group to get Florida election officials to admit this drastic mishap. Granted, a different manufacturer makes these machines, but isn't it obvious to everyone that the risk outweighs the benefits of these systems at this point in time. I work in IT as a programmer and I know what can be done with a simple line of code. Obviously, I am not against using technology to advance our democracy, but maybe it would be prudent to work the kinks out before holding a national election. There I go thinking rationally again. The system is blinking red...to coin a phrase.

Oh by the way, a new state rule in Florida excludes the touch screen machines from manual recounts. How convenient?

Now keep in mind, it was just two weeks ago that major issues were discovered with the so-called felon purge list issued by Jeb Bush and his minions in Florida.

Billmon squares the circle nicely

As you probably recall, the purge list was one of several methods allegedly used by baby Bush and the dragon lady (you know who I mean) to depress African-American turnout in 2000. The list turned out to be just chock full of voters who had either never been felons, or who had had their voting rights restored in other states. And just by coincidence, the vast majority of these improperly banned voters turned out to be black - evn higher, as I recall, than the already disproportionate number of African Americans in the real Florida felon population.

A simple bureaucratic screw up, baby brother Bush said, and one that wouldn't be repeated. As part of a package of election reforms passed by the state legislature in 2001, Jeb's crew was told not to use felon lists obtained from other states (which had proved so inaccurate the last time around.) The state also reached a settlement with the NAACP that required more diligent matching of names to make sure non-felons weren't being disenfranchised. The Department of Justice also signed off on the new procedures - although not the list itself.

Problem solved? Not hardly. When the CNN asked for a copy of the list (which had almost 50,000 names on it) earlier this year, Jeb's people told them they couldn't have one...The mantra has been 'trust us,' " the head of the Miami League of Women Voters told the Times.

Trust but verify, replied CNN, which along with the First Amendment Foundation and a bunch of Florida newspapers asked a state court to rule that the no-copy rule violated the sunshine state's government-in-the sunshine law, which happens to be written straight into the state constituion.

Two weeks ago the court agreed, and after some hemming and hawing Jeb's crew decided to not to appeal to the Florida Supremes (who must have been salivating at the possibility of a little payback) and released the list.

But once they had a chance to examine the list, it didn't take too long for the media to realize there was something strange about it: It had virtually no Hispanic names on it. Apparently, in the entire state of Florida there were roughly 50 Hispanic ex-cons whose names needed to be lifted from the voting rolls. - this in a state where 1 in 5 residents is Hispanic.

Of course, in addition to its size, another noteworthy thing about Florida's Hispanic community (or at least the Cuban part of it) is that it tends to vote heavily Republican. The Cubans went for big brother Bush by something like an 80% margin in the last election.

So once again, coincidence had conspired to create a fraudulent felon list heavily slanted in favor of Jeb Bush's big brother. How unlucky can you get?

A wise man, as well as the current President, once said....fool me once, shame on you...

Just My 2...


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