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Journal cmacb's Journal: Stay Outraged Dammit, No Matter Election Results

Wired Story on Diebold exit from voting business.

Not surprisingly I found this response unchallenged in the Slashdot commentary:

You seem to have not paid attention. There were wide, and well substantiated claims of Diebold problems in that election, many of which are open to interpretation as to whether or not they were fraudulent, and if so if they were politically motivated (as opposed to just covering for incompetence). The problem was that the elections were so overwhelmingly in favor of the Democrats that these irregularities had little impact.

Here's the thing that bothers me about this, though: EVERYONE should be upset when someone says something like that. His statement should be read as, "I will use the Republican party to tear down democracy." Republicans should take that as a slap in the face, and should be MORE outraged than Democrats!


As an ofttimes Republican voter I was:

* Upset when a thorough study of the 2000 Florida results (by mostly liberal mainstream media) concluded that Bush had indeed won the state, but long after that history has been re-written to only focus on headlines from 24 hours after the election.

* Upset that a paper ballot system, with known, but fixable flaws, was thrown out not only in Florida but in other voting districts all over the country, even in cases (such as my last two voting districts) where the paper based systems did not share the "hanging chads" issue and had never had any known problems concerning fraud or miscounts.

* Upset that perfectly valid systems all over the country were scrapped in favor of retrofitted WINDOWS laptops and Windows touchscreen devices with only marginally tested software.

* Upset that in the 2004 election cycle, Democrats AGAIN cried foul in districts where lazy, incompetent election officials spent taxpayers money hand over fist too buy this junky hardware and software rather than do realistic requirements analysis, and particularly upset that while these changes took place (pre 2004) these same left wing complainers said NOTHING, waiting instead for the results that they didn't like.

oh! but that wasn't enough,

* Post 2004 I engaged in numerous debates with individuals who swore they were not complaining about the 2004 results, but were indeed interested in the issue. Again, these people grew silent as distance from the 2004 election increased. As I would bring up newly discovered issues with this Windoze based software (and hardware) they would thank me politely for reminding them and then go right back to Bush bashing, continuing to ignore the very REAL bipartisan problems that were being ignored by the mainstream media.

* While you say the results of 2006 were "overwhelming", in fact in many local elections the margin of victory, particularly for newly elected democrats were a dozen votes, and for state level offices a few hundred. Almost NONE of these votes were contested, even in cases where the Republican candidate had only to request a recount.

Did these Republican candidates even get a "good sportsmanship" pat on the back from the press? Saving the taxpayers millions of dollars in recount costs, in fact got them nothing except continued insults from people like you.

You're right, we should all be outraged (and I am) by slipshod voting practices, whether the cause is corruption or incompetence (and very little is being done at the election-official level about incompetence), how many of them can you name who have been "fired"?

We should also stop accepting the fact that other types of voting corruption has gone on for years in largely Democratic districts. It seems to be widely accepted, even among Democrats that this corruption goes on, but where is the outcry? As your post indicates (not intentionally I'm sure) many Democrats are of the "ends justifies the means" school of thinking and simply don't consider an election invalid if their candidate wins. Of course there are Republicans who fall into this category too, but silence from the left is deafening.

The results of this, which will serve us (you) lazy citizens right, will be another massive expenditure to replace equipment that may have been used for only a single election with more, untested equipment from yet another vendor. And what do you want to bet that the laptop makers and Microsoft sales reps will be following (no, make that guiding) this process every step of the way?


My more succint, after I calmed down response:

As the professor on Futurama says: "Good News Everyone!"...

"Diebold Inc. saw great potential in the modernization of elections equipment. Now, analysts say, executives may be angling for ways to dump its e-voting subsidiary that's widely seen as tarnishing the company's reputation."

Good news, because Windows based flaky touch screen systems will get a much deserved black-eye.

Good news, because maybe a few taxpayers (regardless of political affiliation) will be outraged by yet another wholesale replacement of voting systems by what is (almost**) certainly going to be more of the same. You think the laptop, touchscreen, and software (particularly Microsoft) sales reps are going to just sit idly by as Diebold leaves the playing field? With luck a few well placed (and as many cases as not Democratic leaning) election officials will be publicly driven from office. Do I care whether they are corrupt or just stupid? Um, no. In fact, corrupt governments might tend to watch how they spend our money more carefully. I want the spending on things that obviously don't work to stop, no matter what the cause.

Good news, because it might sever to remind people how close some of the 2006 results were (just as close in many cases as Florida 2000) and yet very few of these results were contested by Republican losing candidates, who could have wasted more taxpayer money with a nod. The one case of a contested results in the states surrounding me was in fact one in with a republican won by a comfortable margin. The Democrats called for a recount anyway. There is no doubt who the "ends justify the means" crybabies are (except in the mainstream media that is).

Good news, finally, because there is (**at least) some chance that the few stories of poor to non-existent systems analysis that went into these new touchscreen voting systems will yield some viable open source alternatives (in fact open source applications running on Linux are ready to go.)

I'll continue to spank posters on Slashdot, local forums, and newspaper editors, who imply that an election has only been mishandled when Republicans win. That shallow thinking HAS lead to tyranny (even if a tyranny of "the masses") in other countries and it will do so here if not stopped.

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Stay Outraged Dammit, No Matter Election Results

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