According to the New York Times this last Sunday “about forty percent of registered voters nationally” are expected to cast their ballots on paperless touch-screen voting machines in November. At stake in November are votes on all 435 House of Representatives seats and one third of the U.S. Senate. At stake is whether Republicans or Democrats control one or both Houses of Congress.
The concern, the NY Times notes, is that many local officials fear that the lack of a paper trail will leave no way to verify votes in case of fraud or computer failure “. There can be no recount with electronic voting machines without a paper trail.
Do voters have a reason to be concerned? The NY Times says that “about one-third of all precincts nationwide are using the electronic voting technology for the first time, raising the chance of problems at the polls as workers struggle to adjust to the new system.”
The Washington Post likewise points to voting problems this year. Overall “more than 80 percent of voters will use electronic voting machines, and a third of all precincts this year are using the technology for the first time.”
The Post cites 4 different catagories of problems and highlights recent developments
1. electronic voting machines – We have previously written about tampering with voting machines and also voter machine malfunctions.
see The Winner is Behind the Voting Machine Screen or “My God, Who Really Won?”<
also “Was the Georgia 2002 Election Stolen?
2. new voter registration requirements that disenfranchise legitimate voters
3. new voter id requirements at the polls which work to stop legitimate voters from voting
4. provisional ballots – where questioned registration has impeded voting.
The Republicans have essentially worked hard to put roadblocks up to prevent legitimate voters from voting. There are not specific instances of any kind of major, much less minor, voter fraud in terms of unregistered voters voting. Illegal immigrants voting has been pushed as a hot button issue, but think about it. If you were an illegal immigrant why would you risk the chance of being caught and deported? The issue has been manufactured by the Republicans as part of their campaign strategy to justify impediments to voting, which affect the elderly, recent legal immigrants that become citizens and poor the most. The reason – these people are more likely to vote Democratic.
Greg Palast writes of another major factor helping to destroy voter confidence in fair honest elections in “ Recipe for a Cooked Election” on the YES Magazine website.
“A nasty little secret of American democracy is that, in every national election, ballots cast are simply thrown in the garbage. Most are called “spoiled,” supposedly unreadable, damaged, invalid. They just don”t get counted. This “spoilage” has occurred for decades, but it reached unprecedented heights in the last two presidential elections. In the 2004 election, for example, more than three million ballots were never counted”
Palast discussed four major issues here:
1.provisional ballots being rejected
2. spoiled ballots
3. absentee ballots uncounted
4. voters being barred from voting
Public confidence in the validity of our voting process and the legitimacy of our elections are called into question by this mess. With a close election in November and the makeup of Congress in the balance, election officials in charge of our voting need to act now to correct these problems.
The stakes are too high to ignore. What is happening is reducing voter confidence in fair and honest elections. People have good reason to doubt that their votes are really being counted. They have good reason to question whether elections are really honest and fair.
The stakes are too high for people to think that if an election can be rigged, that it really won’t, because this is America. Many people have learned the hard way that leaving a door unlocked is a temption for someone to enter it. Electronic voting without a paper trail needs to end. And unnecessary impediments to citizens voting is undemocratic. We need to encourage more people to participate in their democracy, not put up unnecessary roadblocks.