Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Alaska Vote Data: Can't Touch This

A month ago, in December, 2005, Democrats in Alaska were busy making pests of themselves and were then demanding a public audit of the vote totals from the 2004 election, both by district and state-wide. They did so because the public record provided made no sense at all. It will be noted at this point that Diebold has the state contract in Alaska to provide election machines, the very ones that have been shown to be easily hackable.

For instance, district-by-district vote count addition yields a total of 292,267 votes for Bush whereas his official state total was reported as 190,889. More than 100,000 votes in various districts are unaccounted for in the state total. Whitney Brewster claims that the reported results are accurate and consistent and that the Dems are grousing because the voting data,
is just not being reported in the form the Democratic Party would prefer.
By "prefer" Brewster is casting the calls for arithmetic consistency as a political maneuver. That's right, using arithmetic to demonstrate a problem in the voting record is now a devisive partisan attack.

Needless to say, Brewster never did provide an acceptable answer for why these numbers, and many others throughout the state, failed to add up. Brewster does provide what appears to be an explanation, but the Dems remained unconvinced and wanted to actually see that data and verify the explanation. The Dems are not asserting that hacking had happend, only that they are
trying to determine how many votes each candidate got in each district, and we can't tell that from the public data.
Well, it appears that the Dems will not be allowed to do this, at least not right away. The Alaska State Division of Elections has just denied access to the voting data, which by most legal reckoning should be publically accessible. And what does the Elections Division claim is the reason?
They claim the electronic computer file that contains all the final vote tallies is proprietary information belonging to Diebold Election Systems.
Public voting data is now the proprietary information of a corporate entity, Diebold Inc. and cannot be revealed to ... anyone. How much time was going to pass before this defense would be trotted out? Well, there it is, right now. Hilariously, Diebold claims that handing over the data
"could give away the secret of how their software works." I'll bet it could.

This voting machine situation is just getting absurd, although it has been following that path for sometime now. How have we allowed corporate interests to conduct and manage the most crucial public function of any democracy, corporate interests whose very executives have a clear and undenied partisan bias?

And now, when concerns arise and public data is demanded for scrutiny, corporations claim property rights over such data to keep investigation at bay. If such a claim is allowed to stand, election transparency has effectively disappeared. This has got to come to an end!


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