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Voting Reform

As we have seen in the Florida, Ohio and other states, the control of elections by a partisan Secretary of State does not lead to fair elections. As Ohio Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell served both as the chief election official in Ohio and as the chairman of the Bush-Cheney 2004 Campaign in Ohio. This obvious conflict of interest created by Mr. Blackwell was an in-your-face statement of his lack of personal integrity and refusal to honor the mandate of his position to manage fair elections. Further, he led the campaign for the Ohio constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage. The purpose of the gay marriage amendment was to bring out the Christian Fundamentalist vote and thereby enhance Bush-Cheney chances. The 2004 election was marked by long lines (up to eleven hours) in predominantly Democratic precincts and short lines in predominantly Republican precincts. This was brought about by the allocation of voting machines - controlled by Mr. Blackwell. After the election, Blackwell credited himself with having delivered the Ohio vote to Bush-Cheney. Like Ms. Harris (the Florida Secretary of State in 2000), Blackwell expects to be rewarded by future political office. If things were morally right, both would be in prison for election fraud.

In the 2000 Florida election, Jeb and W. Bush fought against a recount when the closeness of the election demanded it. They openly planned to have the Republican legislature overrule the election if it turned against them. As we know, the "conservative" US Supreme Court gave the election to W. when it should have ordered a recount if not a new election. The Court recommended that their (shoddy) decision not be used as a precedent. The minority opinion of the court called it a shameful decision.

In the last presidential election in the Ukraine, the populace of that country (and the world at large) was outraged when exit polls indicated that the presidential challenger had won but the official vote count elected the incumbent. That election was nullified and the challenger won in a new election. We had the same situation in the US Presidential election of 2004. Exit polls indicated that Kerry had won both the popular and electoral college vote by a comfortable margin. The mainstream media, brow beaten by the Right Wing for many years, looked the other way. Former President Carter heads an organization which certifies the fairness of election systems in third world countries. President Carter has stated the US system could not be certified as fair. Under Republican rule, we do not meet the standards expected of third world countries.

This recent history (the long history of election dirty tricks not withstanding) clearly establishes the national Republican Party policy of subverting elections as necessary to win.

To be fair, Democrats have been guilty election rigging in the past (Chicago 1960, Texas in the 1930s,...).

Whatever the outcome, it is essential that the election of 2006 (and all subsequent US elections) be honest, open, and fair.
The greatest present danger to fair elections lurks in the use of automated voting machines. As anyone who has programmed a computer knows, a computer is patently amoral. It will do anything the programmer tells it to do in the program code. For voting machines, this could include a fair count or the distortion of the vote according to any scheme. The program code (aka software) of voting machines should be open to independent review. The Diebold Company, which provides the majority of Ohio voting machines, declares that the program code of their voting machines is Diebold intellectual property and that they will not open it for review. Honest election counting software is hardly on a level with "Rocket Science". It could be written by any programmer in a day or two. Dishonest voting machine code may well be a little more complex. The law must require that the program code of any voting computers be open for review.

Automated voting machines were, at best, unnecessary, but we seem to be stuck with them. In order that we can trust the results, the following procedure must be used:

The voter must be given a blank ballot to insert into the machine. The voting machine must print/fill the ballot to reflect the vote of the voter. The voter must review that ballot and assure that it properly reflects his desired vote. (If not, he requests a new ballot. The old ballot is shredded. He repeats the process with the new blank ballot.) The voter then turns in the ballot and watches as it is placed in the ballot box. With each vote, an election official must insure that only the vote corresponding to the ballot placed in the ballot box is counted by the machine. The voting machine can count the votes for an immediate result at the close of the polling. The ballots should be machine counted to verify the result. Since, the machines which count the ballots are also computers which can be rigged, precincts must be selected on a random basis; the ballots bipartisan hand counted; and the totals compared with the machine results.