Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Chop Shop

If it were not true at this point, the electoral system of the United States has moved from being a frustrating sham and has now entered the realm of joke, a tale told by an idiot.
U.S. Senate candidate James Webb's last name has been cut off on part of the electronic ballot used by voters in Alexandria, Falls Church and Charlottesville because of a computer glitch that also affects other candidates with long names....
Long Names. James Webb.

We're told that this problem simply cannot be fixed before election day.

After this amazing introduction, the WaPo article proceeds to inform us that the "problem" will not affect the vote totals for those candidates who are lucky enough to actually have voters know whom they are voting for. James H., James T., James P. are running in various races. This is some kind of bad luck for Jim Webb, he is up against sentorial incumbent and equally long-named George F. Allen, whose super-long name is appears to be unaffected in the same way as James Webb's long name. George F. Allen's full name appears on the ballot summary page. Voters will get to see "James H." in Webb's listing.

This problem seems to be limited to only the so-called summary pages. It is claimed -- though why anyone should believe such a claim at this point is beyond reckoning -- that the full names will appears on the ballot pages themselves. But still, claiming that this is a problem encountered by "long names" and then showing that Webb's name is cutoff and Allen's is not makes no sense. At all. Something else is clearly going here but we will likely never know what that something is. Fortunately, this problem appears to be limited to only the three jurisdictions that had purchased Hart InterCivic voting machines.

And just who or what is Hart InterCivic? They are an Austin, Tx., based firm that have been peddling their piss-poor wares around the country for sometime and have been involved in federal elections for the last few years. Despite the claim that "Hart InterCivic's integrity, quality, effectiveness, and commitment are simply unmatched in the election vendor community," they have not garnered much in the way of confidence, especially from their own employees, one of whom blew the whistle on Hart InterCivic in 2004 by writing letters to the Sectretaries of State in Ohio and Texas detailing a "long history of concealing problems" for "the sake of profit." More pointedly, the whistleblower claimed and supported that Hart InterCivic engaged in
criminal fraud, extreme negligence, and a distinct and troubling pattern of failure to uphold the public trust both in violations of the spirit of its contracts [and] also in concealing problems in an industry which so crucially represents the public interest.
Not only did neither of the Secretaries of State bother to respond to these letters, they both actively denied ever receiving such certified mail. They also never got a series of emails. Naturally enough, The Washington Post didn't bother to tell readers any of this.

It was also a Hart InterCivic machine, sporting a "glitch," that added 100,000 votes in one county to the vote total in the Texas primary this past spring. Problems, of course, were seen throughout the state during that primary and most occurred on Hart machines.

The problems being seen now and those that will continue to be seen through election day -- though I can barely bring myself to use that phrase anymore -- will continue to be downplayed the media. The people running these voting machines companies are venal, employ felons convicted of computer fraud, and have generally demonstrated behaviour that, to say the least, should be regarded with extreme caution. But the political establishment of this country, and that includes the media, not only doesn't do that, it openly embraces these companies and shuffles billions of dollars their way. And why not? They're only delivering the product desired by those sending these companies all that money. Or, as Chris Floyd describes it:
It's a shell game, with money, companies and corporate brands switching in a blur fo buy-outs and bogus fronts. It's a sink-hole, where mobbed-up operators, paid-off public servants, crazed Christian fascists, CIA shadow-jobbers, war-pimping arms dealers -- and presidential family members -- lie down together in the slime. It's a hacker's dream, with pork-funded, half-finished, secretly-programmed computer systems installed without basic security standards by potically-partsan private firms, and protected by law from public scrutiny.
Surely, you won't mind voting on first name basis. It'll make that whole torturous voting process seem familiar and friendly. And please, be sure not to step on the GOP operatives as you leave the polling station. They are, after all, only there to help.


Blogger The Misanthrope said...

Similar to celebrities, we'll have candidates with only initials or one name only such as:


We were better off with back room deals.

9:57 PM  

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