Very soon now, you'll be hearing and reading red-white-and-blue editorials about your responsibility to go vote this fall. "Every vote counts," they'll cry!
Unless, of course, it doesn't.
Many of our votes this year will be cast and tallied on corporate-controlled electronic voting machines that keep no trackable record of our ballots. These computers can easily malfunction and be manipulated, meaning they can be used to cheat and steal elections.
Shouldn't your vote for president or Congress or whatever be at least as secure as a 25-cent bet you might place in a Las Vegas slot machine? Of course it should. Yet a New York Times investigation finds that gamblers are more protected than voters.
For example, the software to all gambling machines is on file with the respective states, and the machines are constantly spot-checked by public officials. But corporate purveyors of electronic voting machines consider their software a trade secret, off-limits to public inspection.
Also, if a company wants to sell a gambling device, it must submit to a criminal background check and register its employees. To sell computerized voting devices, however, a corporation only has to convince a local election official to buy its stuff -- with no checks required.
Then there's the conflict-of-interest issue. The technical labs that certify gambling devices -- duh! -- must be independent of the makers of those machines. For voting machines, however, the certifying labs are chosen and paid for by the manufacturers!
And what if you think you've been cheated? With a slot machine, you have a right to an immediate inspection, and investigators are on call at all hours, empowered to open the machines and find the flaw or fraud. But with electronic voting machines, there are no inspectors on call, and any subsequent inspection is not allowed to open the machines.
Why should gamblers be more protected than voters? To fight this scam, go to www.verifiedvoting.org.
Publication date: 08/12/04