A Vote for Accountability

I admire California's enthusiasm for voting. Some people find the whole ballot initiative process annoying, and perhaps they've got a point. But the process is also democratic: it helps keep the government accountable to the people, not to the access maestros who trade favors for influence over legislation and spending.

California's referendum-heavy system promotes good government. Does it always succeed? I daresay no. But it empowers people with a bigger role in making the decisions that affect their lives, and gives them a strong voice to keep their elected officials on task.

When it comes to safeguards on voting systems, California "took the lead." While Maryland's predominantly-Democratic state legislature brushed off the serious concerns raised about touchscreen voting, California toughened standards for voting machines, including requiring a paper trail.

As the California Secretary of State's office points out, still more checks are built into California's electoral system, including a mandatory 1% recount in every precinct. Given those checks, there's no reason to think that this particular election result was faulty. Cynical Emily adds: And with incumbents reelected at a rate of 98 percent, that one Congressional seat makes relatively little difference anyway.

In spite of what partisans on both sides might have you believe, the voting machine debate is not about who won or who lost a particular election -- it's about violating our national values of integrity and ethical behavior. We continue to condone this increased potential for fraud when we know full well that more secure systems exist.

This special election in California joins many previous votes that have had a shadow cast over them by the mere possibility that vote tampering could have occurred. (And that's without worrying about the shenanigans elsewhere, like the scrubbing of voter rolls -- listing innocent people as felons and declaring them ineligible to vote.)

It boggles the mind that anyone would argue against a paper trail -- shouldn't that be pretty innocuous? In this article, the author cites a California test in which 20 percent of the machines encountered problems -- at least 19 machines -- ten of which had printer problems. The article ignores those other nine machines (at least nine, as some of the printer problems may have been accompanied by additional errors as well.)

Think about that -- 10 percent of the sample encountered problems that had nothing to do with printing. Yes, paper is an expense. Paper, however, we can afford; what we cannot afford is to use voting systems in which errors could be occurring in significant numbers even as elections are routinely decided by a percent or two -- or even less.

Is a technology that requires so much effort just to stop tampering really the most expedient? Why should the American people trust such a system? How many more irregularities will it take before we decide that some things are better left done the old fashioned way?

[This entry seems to be experiencing technical difficulties. Of course, I tend to have that effect on computer systems.]

By Emily Messner |  June 20, 2006; 10:09 PM ET  | Category:  National Politics
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"This entry seems to be experiencing technical difficulties. Of course, I tend to have that effect on computer systems."

This proves more than anything why we need some sort of seperately verifiable system in place to back up electronic voting. What if Ms. Messner votes and her computer cooties cause the machines to fritz out? (Joking.)

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Computers crash. They suck up data and don't give it back. Why anyone is comfortable with the idea that the data might be several thousand votes (or more) is beyond me.

However, everyone expects answers a split second after they ask, even if the question is who is our next president (or senator, governor, dog catcher)? I would be willing to wait several days to find out if I could be SURE the answer was accurate, but I'm in the minority it seems. So I'm afraid it will take something that can't be put down to a shrug and "Well, these things happen," from Die bold. If during the next presidential election results show that a kitten named Mitzi is our new Commander in Chief, people will probably complain.

I also wonder if we (as a country) are a mite apathetic about voting. Perhaps more people than not think polititians are interchangable crooks and that life won't change that much if Candidate Y wins rather than Canditate X. (I could certainly understand how one might reach this conclusion.) Perhaps voting has become an excuse to come in to work late or leave early and not much more.

Posted by: NII | June 23, 2006 12:45 PM

"In spite of what partisans on both sides might have you believe, the voting machine debate is not about who won or who lost a particular election -- it's about violating our national values of integrity and ethical behavior. We continue to condone this increased potential for fraud when we know full well that more secure systems exist."

So very true.

But the USA only likes winners (at any price) and changing that group think to actually playing fair, would take a generational change over time. If folks like the "Sopranos" and consider it real justice and workings in the real world, you can understand how the politicians and voters will react and push to win at any price.

A cheater is a cheater, unless they're a sportsman or a politician. Then the public will proclaim "All is fair in love and war." :rolleyes:


Posted by: SandyK | June 23, 2006 01:04 PM

Why isn't this blog on the front page?

What good is an election if you can't trust the results?

Is George W. Bush really president? or is Al Gore and or Kerry?

What is the truth?

Posted by: the question: | June 23, 2006 02:48 PM

Democrats win = The people have spoken!
Democrats lose = The election was rigged!

Script seems simple enough to follow.

Posted by: Ronny Mervis | June 23, 2006 03:21 PM

Ronny Mervis:
Obviously thats the truth right? I mean, It couldn't be that people have a general concern for the validity of the democratic purpose.

Just a suggestion, but instead of trying to diffuse the conversation and belittle your 'opponents' by attacking them personally, how about you actually attack the issue and defend why Americans shouldn't be worried about things harming the democratic process? Or is your only response to the suggestion of making the voting process more secure to attack people because your afraid that maybe the Dems are right?

Posted by: Freedom | June 23, 2006 04:02 PM

seem to have forgotten what being a citizen means....

it has less to do with republicans and democrats and more to do with


if you're partisan, you're spinning

this government _IS_ corrupt, but it's through complicity that they are getting away with it....

Kerry took a dive, Lieberman is for Big Money, the current administration is helping itself and your countries jobs are being outsourced and getting TAX BREAKS because of it...

gawd help America, arrest the president and complicit congress.

little Ronnie Mervis, thinks things are in black and white

and he doesn't have to think,

just parrot, sqqqqqqqqqqaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwkkkk

next thing you'll be telling me you suck on Fallwell to tell what time it is...

and gawd is on your side, tell your gawd I said to come to my house and I'll kick his behind for him...otey?

do you understand electronics?

or are you as stupid as you appear to be...

this is not to be construed as a personal attack...I'm just getting to know you.


Posted by: Americans | June 23, 2006 04:11 PM

I want to thank Emily Messner, what is this story no. 2 or 3 she has done on this issue. I have been watching and you're doing a great job, keep it up. This is an issue that the Post is hesitant to cover typically, especially the problems we had in MD in '04.

"Everything went fine" is what they report.

Not true, we have proof that votes were lost in MD in 2004, (Reports of Memory Cards going blank.) It was handed to the press and not one news outlet covered the story.

Now my POV is skewed, I work on this issue for a living. But I have to think that the war over election transparency is the most important issue that our country is facing today. Every other issue in this nation is related to this in a simple way, it does not matter what you believe how noble your cause, and how hard you lobby. If your votes are decided in a black box then the result can be altered and you can never know it, you can never prove it.

After those kids get back from Iraq, lets bring some democracy to America (especially MD)

Posted by: AZ-TrueVoteMD | June 23, 2006 04:58 PM

Nothing wrong with seeking better machines, but that should be a technical issue resolved by technical means to assure that fraud is largely eliminated from the process. Auditable paper outside the computer software seems essential.

But the incessamt Democratic activist harping on old elections or "evil machines" eventually amounts to crybabyism.

The Left seeks to deligitimize democracy when it doesn't go their way.

If they lose, it's either the machines or a conspiracy. Or the "dumb innocent Democrat voters were disenfranchised by complex things beyond their mental capacity - like butterfly ballots."

If they can't prove that, they rush to the courts on cases they know they will lose on lack of evidence simply to realize their cynical calculation that suing will convince their black, feminist, and other core base that malignant conspiracies exist, and only the Democrats "fight for them' after a lost election. With lost referendums, they either sue to void the people's will on matters the Elite knows better than them on - or instruct the levers of gov't they still control to ignore referendum results.

California and the 9th Circuit is infamous for that.

For all their wailing about new machines "stealing elections" - Democrats seem curiously comfortable stealing elections the old fashioned way:

1. The Old Cook County Cemetery Gambit.
2. Assuming that any felon or illegal who is not helped to vote Democratic is "disenfranchiesed" - no matter what the silly laws say about their eligibility.
3. Creating mythical voters - like the 260 homeless and out of state Democrats no one could find after the Seattle elections in 2004 listing their addresses as the King Country Municipal Center.
4. Insisting that voters having to show ID amounts to "racial discrimination" - especially against those piling in church buses and going from poll to poll.

When either Democrats or more rarely Republicans act as crybabies after a lost vote, they deligitimize American democracy and weaken the institution, not strengthen it...if they act out too much.

Posted by: Chris Ford | June 23, 2006 11:58 PM

"Democrats win = The people have spoken!
Democrats lose = The election was rigged!

Script seems simple enough to follow.

Posted by: Ronny Mervis:"

"Freedom" and other liberal activists may object, but that is indeed the impression that seems to be forming in the American public on how Democrats behave if they lose any close election.

Which is a healthy reaction by the public. People will listen to complaints, but when it turns into a dogmatically expected whine act, Democrats are seen as crybabies that are actually out to disparge the competence and the will of the voters.

Posted by: Chris Ford | June 24, 2006 12:02 AM

if I thought you actually mattered, I might say that not having a soul

is indicated in that dishonesty doesn't bother you...

as far as cry baby, I'd kick the a ss of anyone that I found defrauding United States Citizens...

you unnerstan boy?


I'd teach you the meaning of the word.


Posted by: interesting | June 24, 2006 12:31 AM


The crybaby impressions voiced about the Democrats are based on recent history. There have been plenty of incidents of election tampering throughout our history. Both parties have suffered and complained loudly as a result. To me this only legitimizes the need for higher standards across the board. As you said there's nothing wrong with seeking better machines (and I would add, associated procedures)and that auditable paper outside the computer software seems essential.

The question that occurs to me is what is to be done with the paper trail. So what if voters have receipts? If there are questions about an election, is it realistic to think that all the voters could be rounded up and their receipts recounted after the fact?

Receipts need to be accompanied with a statistical procedure to count the results of a sample of receipts as voters exit the polls - a quality assurance check very similar to exit polling, I suppose, but based on actual documentation of votes. There would have to be a way to maintain confidentiality of the voter's choice. Of course that adds to the complexity and expense of the operation, but if we don't have it, what good is a paper trail, and how do we ensure that it can't be manipulated just as easily as the votes cast into a bunch of little black boxes?

Posted by: DK | June 24, 2006 01:00 AM

part of being a United States Citizen, would entail having an honest election...

republican/democrats are just labels...

the truth is something else, I don't like liars...I don't care what party you belong to...

I don't care if your name is Pat Robertson or Jerry Fallwell, I don't care if your name is George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush or Kerry...or Lieberman.

I'm not interested in being lied to if I pay the friggin cost to support the gawd damned government boyz...


you unnerstan me?


Posted by: I think that | June 24, 2006 01:12 AM

Ahm talking about the job Ahm payin yah tah do...represent me...

not who you're froggin,

why that's none o mah ffricking bidness.

Posted by: and when I talk about lieing | June 24, 2006 01:14 AM

Arkansas the other day,

the story she tells is that the election machines are being fixed by Bush and Company and there may not be any more fair elections...

she don't read the Washington Post...

how does she know all that?

Posted by: I was talking to a friend in backcountry | June 24, 2006 01:17 AM

yello cowards exemplified by the president and his friends as well as family,

I am moved to tears that our country has reached such a sorry state and that satan has taken posession of the whitehouse...

and that we may need to take extraordinary measures like kicking the kaka out of a few people to server as an example of what happens when you cheat the electoral process...


praise my size 12.


Posted by: when I see the kinda | June 24, 2006 01:24 AM

For uncensored news please bookmar:


Why should the GOP worry, it controls the voting machines

By Bev Conover
Online Journal Editor & Publisher

With each passing day, the US slides further into some dark farce that would have us rolling in the aisles with laughter if the consequences weren't so monstrous and bloody.

Good poker players know when to fold 'em. But there are no good poker players in Washington. Not among the incompetents in the Bush administration. Not among the Republican dunderheads who control both houses of Congress and very few among the so-called opposition -- a.k.a. Democrats.

It's bad enough when the imbecilic Decider in Chief makes a fool of himself, as he did this week in Vienna. First, by making like a "girlie-man" by stomping his feet and telling Iran not to test his patience over its perfectly legal nuclear program. Who in hell does he think he is? Oops, he's the Decider.

Then Decider Bush stupidly says it's "absurd" for Europeans to suggest that the US is the greatest threat to world stability. Right, just don't glance over at the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And, in all his infantile insolence, he couldn't resist lashing out at the third leg of his "axis of evil," the North Korean, warning them if they test fired their long-range missile, he would pick up his joystick and launch his (non-existent) missile defense whatevers to shoot them down.

Then he goes to Hungary and tells the Iraqis they should be inspired by the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, which the Soviets crushed in 12 days. It only took the Hungarians 33 more years to rid themselves of tyranny. Some inspiration for the Iraqis or was Bush telling them they would be under Corporate America's boot for three more decades?

Meanwhile back in Washington, the GOP leadership in the House and Senate, taking their orders from the Decider and his controller, Dark Side Cheney -- and armed with the Pentagon's illegal political talking points -- instead of folding 'em on Iraq, buckled under and decreed the Republicans would "stay the course."

Never mind that the majority of Americans want us to leave. Never mind that the majority of Iraqis want us to leave. Never mind that US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, former Unocal adviser and our current puppet in Iraq, is busy having documents shredded in preparation for the Green Zone being overrun by the Iraqi resistance, which the Bushies and the corporate media insist upon calling "insurgents."

Despite all the nonsense about the gains being made in Iraq that is spewed daily by the administration and dutifully reported by the corporate media, plus Cheney's repeated pronouncements that the "insurgency" is in its "last throes," Khalilzad's leaked confidential memo paints a grim picture of the stark reality that life in Iraq worsens daily.

But Khalilzad's revelations are meaningless to the congressional Republicans who reject the wimpy Democrats paltry proposals for withdrawal and accuse them of being "defeatists" who want to "cut and run."

Now why do you suppose the Republicans, who claim to be so worried that the Democrats will retake Congress in November, think that continuing the killing of Americans and Iraqis is their key to victory? Because their worries are a sham; they make cheap for copy to fill the spaces between the ads in newspapers and the commercials on so-called TV and radio "news." It's all a game, a sick, sick game that can't get much sicker.

The Republicans control the easily rigged touch screens and optical scanners most Americans will use to cast their votes on.

The GOP is utterly contemptuous of the American people and what the people thought was their democratic republic. And the Democrats are not much better. Do American have to have feces rubbed in their faces before they grasp what is going on?
An even more frightening scenario is ff the Democrats should emerge victorious in November, voters, especially Democrats, will think they have prevailed and they will pat themselves on the back and promptly go back to sleep, allowing the Dems to play their phased withdrawal and redeployment games. When, in truth, if the Democrats regain control of one or both houses, it will have been the handiwork of the corporate powers behind the curtain that decided a change was better for their bottom lines. Rigged computerized voting machines can go both ways.

Posted by: che | June 24, 2006 04:39 AM

Hey, Emily, you have no clue how BAD the referendum/initiative process actually is. Have you lived in CA? Have you really paid close attention to the effects of the referendum/initiatives out there? As anyone will tell you, the devil is in the details -- and that's exactly where the problem is in CA's initiatives. To me, referendums and initiatives sound good. They sound exactly like you describe them -- more democratic and responsive to the people's desires.

Unfortunately, in practice, they are horrible. The continuing budget problems in CA are the result of this process. Previous initiatives have hamstrung the state legislature from cutting spending. Other initiatives have hamstrung the legislature from increasing taxes. So, when the economy turns sour, what the heck can the state do?

The problem has been that spending initiatives are not paired with tax increases. What would be better is if an initiative requiring the state to spend X amount of dollars was paired with a requirement that taxes go up enough to cover that spending. People need to see that services cost money. When people just see an initiative for funding more libraries, they think: "Hey, I like libraries. Sounds like a good idea." They never consider the deeper, more complicated ramifications of passing these things (such as budget problems).

Ultimately, my problem is that initiatives and referendums simplify issues and problems to the point of absurdity. Moreover, unlike a state legislature which can investigate an issue and get into the nitty-gritty details, voters never get to do that kind of investigation and never learn about all the complicated details of proposed legislation.

I'm sorry, Emily, but your statements on referendums and initiatives are unbelievably naive. I strongly encourage you to do MUCH more research on this subject and what's happened in CA before you start painting things in such broad strokes (especially when you're basing it on one issue - voting machines).

Posted by: formerCAres | June 24, 2006 11:26 AM

For purposes of making a debate, the greatest virtue of combining the problem of integrity of the voting process togeher with accountability of representatives to address issues of actual concern to citizens, is that the rolled-up issue revolves around a domestic concern.

The public is so regularly manipulated in election years by super-patriot displays (presently in the works no doubt), fears of change ("stay the course"), and, to be straightforward, distortions from the elite which amount to lies ("death tax" unfairness). Pushing a polarizing immigration measure certainly raises funds from money holes for the Republicans, but was probably ill-timed in ginning up gains with individual voters.

Historical perspective matters in deliberating over threats to the survival of the republic. As the Roman Empire moved from a republic with a high tradition of Senate leadership, to an empire with militaristic and unitary power in the Emperor first under Octavian, the entire voting process as well as the representative process became a sham. A scholarly read along these lines is _The Sorrows of Empire_ by Chalmers Johnson.

Posted by: On the plantation | June 24, 2006 04:30 PM

I said the greatest danger to National Security...

Is economic and political.

We have a political system that serves a very few people and industries.

Right now primarily the pork and industrial complex industry....with pork including the Military Industrial Complex.

We have gone to intervention with another country because we have people in charge that needed to justify their existence after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

So now, rather than working on our infrastructure and economic sanctions and cooperations we are spread across the face of the earth trying to manage affairs that could have been more easily managed economically, and with sanctions....

AND WE HAVE SPENT 150 times the amount that we spent on Desert Storm...

and have accomplished little in progress and great amounts in WORLD ANIMOSITY...

If we don't arrest and shoot some cabinet members it could take us decades to regain world esteem, and marketability....

Since we're siphoning all of our money out of the United States and sending it to other countries without any infrastructure planning or thoughtful process

our own country is moving in the direction that the SOVIET UNION moved preceding it's fall...

our middle class is disappearing, our jobs have been outsourced, and the people that did this are busy disassembling and selling what is left of the United States while the rights of the citizens that exist here are being

destroyed/removed/made smaller...

a country is only as good as it's citizenship, unless you want to spend a ton of money controlling them...

which if actually extrememely inefficient.

You need an engineer in charge of the United States with the ability to line item execute members of congress and the executive branch....

I'm available.


Posted by: the greatest danger to National Security | June 24, 2006 08:15 PM

Emily asked:
"How many more irregularities will it take before we decide that some things are better left done the old fashioned way?"

Unfortunately the very technology that makes this blog possible is what makes going back to paper ("hard copy") almost nil.

The goal is to nationalized at least the presidential elections (with instant vote tallies), and that's not possible with paper.

There are electronic ways to verify data, and if the database and network are secure, makes tampering more difficult than anything else we've used (unlike paper which can be mass produced to "stuff" vote boxes, tampering with electronic votes would take expertise that's not as common as folks think).

I like the old punch cards, and would prefer them, but after the 2000 election and the still crying *6* years later over it, nope, folks got exactly what they wanted (and still complaining unless their party wins -- meaning there's too many poor losers in politics now [would explain why sportsman abuse drugs to win too, same mindset]).


Posted by: SandyK | June 24, 2006 08:22 PM

DK (6/24 1:00AM) "The question that occurs to me is what is to be done with the paper trail. So what if voters have receipts? If there are questions about an election, is it realistic to think that all the voters could be rounded up and their receipts recounted after the fact?"

Any better voting scheme would have a record independent of one electronic dBase maintained by the voting machine network. For visibility and clarity, it should not be a receipt the machine spits out to a voter, but the ballot the voter fills out.

I agree, and have said before on a previous thread, that calling for voters to return with their paper receipts a week, days, months after an election would essentially be a completely different 2nd election that would throw out the will of the people from the 1st. Some who cared about a slate of issues may not care enough to wait in line 4 hours all over again for two contestants peripheral to their interests, have better things to do than shuffle back with their receipt, so they wouldn't bother.

DK (6/24 1:00AM) "Receipts need to be accompanied with a statistical procedure to count the results of a sample of receipts as voters exit the polls - a quality assurance check very similar to exit polling."

A non-starter. I do not want to hand over my receipt so a state official bracketed by activists monitoring the official can see how I voted and query me about why I voted or why I left some selections unvoted on.

formerCaREs (6/24 11:46AM) - Documents the awesome fiscal mess California got in with overpromising ignorant voters free pie by initiatives and referendums. (As well as lobbyists via a bought legislature, and activist judges imposing unfunded mandates on society, schools, and businesses).

I like referendums, but they must be pay as you go. They must not also be allowed to pass then be perverted into something else by a judge in chambers or backroom in a legislature modifying language or "reinterpreting" what the measure ACTUALLY MEANT ex post facto.

Real reform?

1. All voters must present photo ID, the securer the better. I don't buy the "initimidation" of having to prove you are not an illegal alien, felon, or ghost voter visiting her 7th poll to vote again - as a violation of civil rights.

2. Voting should be by electronic machine, but should be a machine that reads the paper ballot the voter fills out, then retains that ballot in secure, locked storage in a container. Voter should fill out ballot, insert ballot in captured , then machine should read, authenticate that it is a real ballot assigned not a counterfeit one, and then put a facsimile of the ballot on the screen indicating "These are your choices. Hit 'yes' to complete your vote and file your ballot in secure storage. Hit 'no' if you want to have your ballot released from capture back to you for more work or to show to obtain a new, replacement ballot."

Some caveats:

A. Under no circumstances should electronic voting machine networks be set up to provide a realtime running tally to Party campaign staffs. Too much temptation on a local or state or national level to tamper. "We're losing badly in the 12th Precinct! Get the town road crew out to set up massive construction delays!" "This is Congresswoman Sharpbury calling to remind her appointee that it would be helpful to release all government workers early today, results show at noon we need their help." "Media reports indicate Presidential running vote nationwide shows at 2:30PM that Hispanic activists may be crucial in New Mexico and New Jersey to counteract large suburban turnout in those states".

B. Under no circumstances should voting machines be made into a worse version of the worst voicemail by becoming a 20-step process once a ballot is inserted. No polls in addition to the vote. No "Are you really sure you want to vote for 11 Republicans and 4 Democrats? If so, select from the following 8 options that best explain why you are splitting your vote." "You did not vote on two referendums. Scroll menu options if you wish to learn more about both from positions prepared by proponents and opponents. Ignore the 500 people waiting behind you to vote. Don't be pressured. Each and every vote you make is precious.."

Voting machines should just verify the ballot is as the voter intended and NEVER be used for ensnarling poll places in last minute moron education or asking 20 questions.

C. Ballots stay in secure storage for 10 days and are then destroyed unless a recount under existing law is sanctioned.

D. States and municipalities should have relatively uniform laws and practices .

E. Ballots assigned to each voter should have a unique ID Code assigned to voter, no name of voter on the actual ballot, and replacement ballots given the unique ID code of orginal ballot by election worker after spoiled original is torn up.

F. Absentee ballots should be registered electronically by the same cautious process now in use. Use of mail-in ballots should be strongly discouraged nation-wide because of growing concern over their sale or other fraud.

G. Accuracy of machines, software verification, audit of all points in process should be the role of independent auditors and NEVER left to activist Party lawyers trolling for the right political appointee activist judge to take control of the vote, or the system.

Posted by: Chris Ford | June 24, 2006 11:23 PM

The botttom line with voting, and its presumed place in the granting of power to an individual or group in a democracy, is that those seeking power will do anything thay can to attain and keep it. This is no place for fair play or high-mindedness. If it was, we wouldn't need laws to keep the process on the up and up.

Tabulation, accounting, chain of possession, and determination of who may or may not vote (and a method for limiting the vote to one actual vote per one actual, qualified person), are all historically (and ostensibly) governed by a strict paper trail, as they should be.

Low tech can sometimes be a better method of ensuring that the will of the people is expressed than a Rube Goldberg high tech method.

The election in iraq comes to mind.

Maybe we should have our fingers dyed (red and blue dyes would be appropriate), to prove that we voted, only once, and who we voted for.

Then, It'd be a simple matter of counting raised hands.

Anyone who resists the accurate tabulation, recordation, and substantiation of an individual vote has either an ulterior motive, or an unrealistic assessment of the integrity of those seeking power for themselves or their group.

Posted by: smafdy | June 25, 2006 09:33 AM

smafdy wrote:

"Tabulation, accounting, chain of possession, and determination of who may or may not vote (and a method for limiting the vote to one actual vote per one actual, qualified person), are all historically (and ostensibly) governed by a strict paper trail, as they should be."

A perpetual surprise to me is that both sides have some interest in maintaining a defective system.

Perhaps this blotch on democracy is another strong argument for a vibrant third party, changing the election dynamics at the polling booth to shake the foundation.

Posted by: On the plantation | June 25, 2006 02:19 PM

but the "right to bear arms," is in there because of what is going on now...

our country has been seized by internal interests, not acting as agents of the citizens,

but as agents for themselves, indictment, execution, and so forth are called for by our Constitution and Bill of Rights...

the congress and executive branch are acting for themselves, not the country...

there are specific procedures outlined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights that deal with those circumstances...

rigging elections? what is this? Chile?

Posted by: not to alarm anyone.. | June 25, 2006 04:21 PM


I did state after the statistical sampling QA check that it would have to be while still maintaining confidentiality of the vote.

I do like your concept of filling out the ballot, have the computer check the ballot and query voter is this what you want? then if yes log the vote. Then place the ballot in a locked box for reference later in case of the need for recount.

Response to your lettered points:

A Agreed

B agreed

C Why destroy after 10 days?

D, E, F, and G - all agreed

Posted by: DK | June 25, 2006 04:25 PM


Here's some answers to your "real reform"...

1. Nope, no national ID/passport system. The USA isn't Europe, and the population would balk at the idea of showing a damn passport just to visit another state (which will happen with a nationalized ID system, and the governors learn it can be done for a zillion excuses). The only thing that needs to be nationalized is the crime database so other states will know if Joe SixPack is a thug or not. National IDs aren't needed for voting anyhow, and it gives Washington too much control over state residents whereabouts.

2. Electronics with paper is a two prong approach to failure. Either pick either one, but not merge the two, as that's two points of failure (besides it violates the logic of Occam's Razor). This whole idea about some paper trail is the same knee-jerk reaction we got with folks pushing electronic voting machines WITHOUT studying their problems FIRST. Furthermore, I don't like paper trails as they can lead right back to the individual voter by data hoarders (which occurs with database keepers as well). Votes are private for a very good reason and must remain so with no trace back to the voter -- none, zip, nada.

Your sidebars...

A. Realtime tallying is in the future. It's ineviable since our "instant" society won't want to wait for days to tally up votes. It'll also will influence elections like nothing before and draw more voters to vote -- especially if a candidate they don't prefer is winning (where now we won't know until late in the evening when polls close). I like this approach a lot since it returns politicking to the people, and give more weight to popular votes, not what some PAC or other political group tries to influence behind closed doors. The days of party bosses and influence peddlars would go the way of the dodo in this manner. :)

B. That's already programmed (it does come in handy as recently in a local vote there was a two prong tax proposal. If one voted one way they'd would've supported the tax increase, and a reminder quickly made changing the vote to "No" a godsend. So it's not all bad as it seems).

C. Ballots once electronically saved are never purged (if you think data miners will just let that goldmine go, I got a bridge to sell ya!). They'll be reused for years for statistics, much like the Census.

D. If they did have uniform laws and practices then our voting system wouldn't even need electronic polls. But since politics is a dirty business (and the NIMBY crowd don't like their control thwarted from some San Francisco Moonie, the loss of control won't happen).

E. Isn't fail safe, because legitmate votes matched to legitmate voters will have to be tracked somehow. Anyone can issue an anonymous poll number and use it, and it could be used to stuff the box, as well. Tracking has to be the old fashioned way -- the poll workers have their hard copy voter lists; they see your ID; check your name (cross it out since you've arrived to vote); then you sign the voter card with your name and address; give it to another pollster who verifies the info; and THEN you are given an electonic vote key. The longest I had to wait to vote with all that checking was about 45 minutes, since poll stations around here are neighborhood based and everywhere -- and if you can't make it, absentee ballots are available 30 days in advance.

F. Considering all that must be done to vote absentee locally, such fraud is unlikely here (we've long have had mandatory IDs, resident checks, and in person requesting of ballots).

G. Accuracy of machines is only good as the programmer (be it the software designer or the software installer). Which is a point of failure that punch cards wouldn't cause.

Personally, the punch cards were a heck of a lot easier to manage and count. Voters rarely needed help. Now the pollsters have to help the voters in understanding how to work with another VCR type device (especially when it talks back to you about your choices -- it's not friendly to grandmas that make up the bulk of voting).

Add to all of this, they should allow voters the option to having a family member with them to vote too. Considering it's the only way some could get grandma to vote.


Posted by: SandyK | June 25, 2006 05:27 PM

Why, I wonder should anyone debate the pros and cons of voting machines when they have so little influence over the type of governance system we have in place, where the elected rascals be they liberals or conservatives are irremovable from office due to the rigged and un-American incumbency system.

While partisans huff and puff and deride each other, too often, with uninformed, inaccurate labels and vicious statements, the boys in the band, in Washington are laughing at the electorate.

Behind close doors, incumbents pat each other's backs, in a non-partisan way, knowing that the people currently do not have the power to remove the majority out of office due to their entrenched incumbency system.

Posted by: J.Leopold Roy | June 25, 2006 06:21 PM

To change incumbents from getting elected would require an honest, non influence peddling political system. It never existed, for as soon as someone somewhere can get a leg up over someone else, they'll want to keep that power and the money it brings.

Politics is a dirty game. Those getting into it rarely do so for the good of the many, but what they can gain from it (or to push their personal agendas).

BTW, try getting the politican out of politics (you know retire?). The system makes them career minded, since there's so much power and money in it to leave it behind (why when they do "retire" they just become lobbyists and consultants).

What's worse is voters continue to vote the bozos in office, only to have them rip them off and even take their rights away (I vote for the lesser evil candidate, knowing full well the candidate won't vote for what's best, as s/he's in office to milk it for their CV [for more money and power later]).

America got it's system because the people allowed it, and no one else is to blame for letting themselves get abused.


Posted by: SandyK | June 25, 2006 07:13 PM

America got it's system because the people allowed it, and no one else is to blame for letting themselves get abused.

by Sandy K.

I disagree, _most_ citizens have been scrambling for about 20 to 30 years...and haven't kept up.

since the Japanese started challenging the United States economically...Americans have been working too hard and not keeping track...

MIDDLE CLASS as the largest voting and economic force in the United States kept the monied from gaining control of everything....

people having time to read, talk, relax.

there has always been an attempt by the monied to take_over and control things....

Oliver Twist, Muck Rakers, Robber Barons, Womens Rights, Labor Laws, Child Labor Laws..

WWII and the GI Bill allowed for the emergence and stability of a LARGE middle class....

workday over at 5:00 PM.

competing with Japan created a fervor and penchant for longer hours, bottom line mentality, with no long range plans...

giving other countries our auto industry rather than competing with the better engineering coming out of Japan started the slide...

which continued with electronics, they copied what we did, without having to pay for the R&D so their enterprises focused on "quality," as a way of defeating us, we didn't respond in kind....we gave it away

auto and high tech markets, and with that the jobs connected with those markets...

CITIZENS didn't get to vote on that, those are board room decisions........

the American Auto Industry is not like VOLVO, that has teams that build a car and consult with the factory engineers about "what needs to be done,"

bottom line mentality means that people aren't considered only the "larger corporate viewpoint,"

disenfranchisement of the middle class leads to less wage and less time to think about what is going on....

loss of economic power, loss of information as a resource due to diminished time....displaced middle class people have to spend more time working to pay their existing bills...

leading to:

the emergence of sound-bite-mentality

people begin to rely on the general feeling of what they think is going on...

some really low-life mentalities that know how to pander to demagogurey use that to control elections while moving their people into key positions to loot the country and pass laws that make their _illegal_ activities

quasi legal

Constitutionally speaking and using the Bill of Rights you could probably arrest and prosecute for treason if you could break a few sheep away from the herd...

blaming the American people for not doing the jobs that the legislators have been hired to do....

is really very stupid.

requiring the legislators to uphold the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the laws that they pass as well as having honest elections by the book....

is the truth, and anyone saying differently needs their a ss kicked...

it's not my responsibility to enforce the law, until lawlessness becomes so rampant that I have no choice....


but still 12 people with authority could put this country back on track by monday, by arresting a few people

and arresting employers of _illegals_



Posted by: I disagree with that statement.. | June 25, 2006 07:48 PM

blaming the American people for not doing the jobs that the legislators have been hired to do....

is really very stupid.

requiring the legislators to uphold the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the laws that they pass as well as having honest elections by the book....

Posted by: arrest the complicit...knock off knocking your own...house slaves not wanted pr ick.. | June 25, 2006 07:51 PM

politicians to obey the same laws that a person that is working in a secure building obeys,

would go a long ways towards making for an honest political process....

one doesn't store gasoline with newspapers in a boiler room with smokers...

requiring that people who were elected officials be clearable as a part of getting elected

would ensure that less dishonest people would be likely to apply....



Posted by: Sandy K, requiring | June 25, 2006 08:23 PM


I abhor your lack of honesty in the face of what your country needs...

you are one sad a ss politician.


yes, I know you're reading this.


Posted by: dear mr | June 25, 2006 08:25 PM

1. DK - Ten days was arbitrary. The big thing is to give voters election finality and confidence in the outcome, ASAP. Meaning either a recount is decided on in a day or so, and the ballots are destroyed in a reasonable time (for me, 2 working weeks). Part of this is to have the rules very clear, set up by the legislature...and no toleration of teams of Party Ambitious Shysters using judges to change the rules and laws of the election, in litigation, ex post facto. And twarting the will of the people to have a final outcome for months.

2. SandyK - I didn't mention National ID, just photo ID because of the explosion in Party and special interest groups use of fraudulent voters. If your vote is diluted by those not eligible to vote, your vote may be cancelled out. The fraud danger is far greater than the privacy danger. Every voter should prove they are who they say they are when they vote.

But as for National ID, I like the idea that some have had where the people can opt for either secure ID or insecure ID.

Those with secure ID may have a small privacy risk added, but they would get lower credit rates, ability to travel to countries accepting secure ID in lieu of passports, and go though airport and other security rapidly.

Those wishing to not have secure ID would pay an extra security processing fee in airports, need to get a passport to even go to Canada or Mexico, pay higher credit rates because they would be the identity theft risk pool.

Let the people vote on National ID.

I want mine tomorrow - just to avoid having to pay my tax dollars to support a legion of McDonalds rejects at the airport, and asking me the same dumb questions after being in a 45-90 minute line I always get.

I also want all my medical records made electronic and accessible with a cypher from a keycode on me or at my primary care physician to help eliminate lethal medical errors, excessive costs and delays. If it's good enough for other Democratic countries to move past a health system using 60 year old IT, it's good enough for America.

Posted by: Chris Ford | June 25, 2006 11:22 PM

we all need to have chips inserted in our forheads that begin

with the number 666...

_illegal_ immigrants need to effin go home, and their employers need to apply for orange jumpsuits...


Posted by: I think | June 25, 2006 11:40 PM

National ID and e-medical records-

I don't really care if a victim pool exists that incurs the credit card theft, needs battalions of TSA goons in polyester to query them after 2 hour delays, or wishes to die from medical errors in the name of "privacy". Their choice.

I simply want my own secure ID for protection from ID theft, security in travel, and electronic health records to cut my bills lower than privacy freaks and lower my risk of medical error.

And I want the privacy rights people to pay their own way for their added security man-hours expended on them, medical paperwork&testing, and additional credit risk. There are people in America that refuse to have phones and driver licenses because they fear Gummint, the UN, the Mind of Karl Rove....whatever. Let 'em! Just as America can go ahead with the rest of the advanced nations and leave those unwilling to use new technology behind with their discomforts and reassurances - but freedom is also letting people that want new technology to proceed with their choices.

That way it's a matter of choice, even if the victim pool shrinks so much that the ID predators going after a samller number of possible "marks" and "no-ID surcharges" make life worse for the remaining people in the victim pool.

One recent case they like to mention involved inquiries concerning 10 men in a Muslim gang here with 860 false identities, using 2,500 different mobile-phone SIM cards, some 3,100 forged credit cards with "good" social security numbers, and encrypted computers on which much of the data was in a Farsi dialect. Credit card theft was just one activity the men, associated with Hezbollah, are suspected of.

Posted by: Chris Ford | June 26, 2006 02:05 AM


Your faith in the government is a lot more than my own, since I know how BAD the government can be with snooping into one's affairs (be it bank transactions to your medical records). Wait until you're on Medicare and see how you'd like getting called from Medicare about your own spending (when it's really none of their damn business, especially since the transaction trail doesn't show any illegal activity). You'll be begging for reforms.

I don't want an national ID as much as I believe it's a crime to use the SSN# as an identifier (those who have had SS cards before the changes can clearly read on those cards that the number can't be used for identification purposes). That's changed not out of necessity but damn spying on individuals (meanwhile wholesale fraud goes on for years UNCHECKED!).

Don't want government anymore in my life, be it in the bedroom, the living room, the doctor's office and surely on who I vote for, so nix the national ID idea. We're not Europe anyway, Americans prefer interstate freedom, and transparency between state lines, not some Balkanized city-states.


Posted by: SandyK | June 26, 2006 02:28 AM

Whoever wrote:
"WWII and the GI Bill allowed for the emergence and stability of a LARGE middle class...."

Actually it was the labor movement that made a middle class livihood (especially the miniunum wage and the 8hr work day folks take as granted, but hard won rights by folks willing to die picketing and protesting to gain). It didn't come from a GI Bill, let alone the aftermath of WWII itself.


Posted by: SandyK | June 26, 2006 02:34 AM

yes, you're right...

and it was also Henry Ford, as well as the labor movement...

that helped to create a strong demand for labor, and helped to create a middle class, but it was a college education to gain what was usually a class thing...

many people catipulted into a life style that wasn't available straight from the farm and for so many...

factories w/o labor reform wouldn't have created a blue collar middle class...

_that_ is why the criminalization of unions by organized crime, as well as the destruction of them by _organized_ corporate crime...

good men and women lost their lives so that many could have a good life for awhile, until the companies took the revenues, and profits created from the lives of Americans and stole from America a crop that should have sustained her into boomer old age...now old people are the fastest growing poverty joiners...as decided by our great "decider"

it is a shame, Union reform is still a possibility though, if honesty can make a comeback.

hey, with the kind of surveillance that is available nowdays, crime doesn't stand a chance unless it's got some inside help...

like owning a family....that is deeply invested in taking from your family


Posted by: yeah whoever it was that wrote that... | June 26, 2006 03:23 AM

Little bit of good news from The Fix:

Some comments posted over the weekend seemed to advocate violence toward members of Congress and other government officials. Those comments have been deleted and the commenter has been banned from posting on washingtonpost.com.

We encourage robust political debate, but will not tolerate threats of violence toward anyone. Please do your part to keep the conversation within the appropriate realm of political debate.

Thank You,

-- Editors, washingtonpost.com

Posted by: washingtonpost.com Editors | June 26, 2006 12:14 PM

The posts that were deleted belonged to a very familiar "stream of consciousness" poster lacking any syntax or sense. I can only hope that the person banned from that blog is the same one haunting us here (in the above post).

Sorry for the off-topic post but I thought this info would be well received by most regular posters here and thus feel vindicated in pointing it out. Have a great Monday.

Posted by: Will in Texas | June 26, 2006 12:27 PM

My comment will be a bit off topic, but tangentially related to the broad idea of social accountability.

The career change of Bill Gates towards managing global issues of health and education through his huge foundation, plus the news that Warren Buffett will amplify those efforts by an equal amount, represent something very uplifting and inspirational.

One wonders if tax-law changes to completely or virtually eliminate estate taxes would turn other less selfless multi-millionaires away from charity and towards unassailable dynasties. I believe it would have that effect. Elimination of estate taxes could have undone the conditions to create something as terrific as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Posted by: On the plantation | June 26, 2006 02:03 PM

Until we as Americans can find a way to clean some of the riff-raff out our governments, elections will continue to be fixed, our Constitution will continue to be used as toilet paper by said elected officials, and big money will continue to keep its hands on the control strings of our leaders. It's going to business as usual. We need to get the money out of politics, or else demand total transparency of every penny that is spent on/for/elect/educate/feed/ and entertain every politician or otherwise deals will be continued to be made behind closed doors, lobbiests will continue to fund their favorite politician's campaign/charity/ or in the more recent past, pockets because they can and do buy influence.

Posted by: Lab Rat | June 26, 2006 02:11 PM

Americans, please this is overkill. It is just a waste of tax payers money

Posted by: UNILAGfaces | June 26, 2006 02:25 PM

Will in Texas wrote:
"Sorry for the off-topic post but I thought this info would be well received by most regular posters here and thus feel vindicated in pointing it out. Have a great Monday."

The Fix is a much ruder partisan blog, which I wouldn't doubt would attract that type of rhetoric -- they mudrake over there and it's personal. I'm just waiting for the F-Bombs and worse to pepper the posts (dragging down the content to guttural exchanges), since that's the Daily KoS posting style.


Posted by: SandyK | June 26, 2006 02:35 PM

Will in Texas,

we'll all rest easier knowing that only you and a few others will be able to misrepresent the truth..

thanks so much ferry on little man...

you've done your job for _your_ side

which isn't America.


Posted by: thanks for pointing that out | June 26, 2006 02:52 PM


What's going on? Still on the west coast? Last topic was on the 20th, and now it's the 26th. :/

What's in the news now to debate about (from Yahoo)...

Bush slams leak of terror finance story (He's upset again of losing control of information)

Bush downplays Iraq troop pullout reports (Again trying to spin the story to his favor)

VA barred from publicizing offer to vets (Now the VA can't advertize free credit reporting help for possible identity theft victims??!!)

Immigration emerges as Utah primary issue (Heads up on what November issues may be about, and very hotly contested)

Supreme Court to hear Bush environment case (One of the most important environmental legislation points yet)

White House seeks Israeli soldier's release (Did the White House help with the Russian workers that were kidnapped? Any other foreign nationals?)

Judge blocks part of Ga. sex offender law (is it fair to block sex offenders from literally living anywhere in a county that has a school?)

Is there another expose coming up? Hint, Hint. ;)


Posted by: SandyK | June 26, 2006 03:57 PM

is this article a joke? Almost no one in California believes that the referendum increases democracy. People are paid to collect signatures, usually a dollar per, on topics of which they know nothing. Then each side begins a vicious and misleading campaign that lacks substance. The end result is that we devote far less time to our representatives, making them even less accountable. The most promising development in CAs democracy is that the last 2 batches of referendums have been rejected by the voters

Posted by: Scott | June 26, 2006 05:25 PM

Government accountability is an oxymoron. The reason there can be no accountability in either my country(Canada) or the U.S. or any other country is "it is not in their collective best (conflicts of) interests.It seems the states may have a harder time as it seems a fair amount of politicians have been convicted of various crimes but, still allowed to run for office.ie Jeb Bush,Florida never mind the Preidents nefarious activities.

Posted by: Terri Robson | July 10, 2006 03:02 PM

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