Florida District 13: Oooh-oh, That Smell!

Two things to take from this post: 1) Bush, et al campaigned way too hard for this loser to lose, and 2) Oh no, you did-int say the voters can’t see how the votes are recorded!

I didn’t think I would still be this appalled, all these weeks later, about the race in which Republican multimillionaire car dealer Vern Buchanan stole the U.S. House Florida District 13 seat. But with the Jetsonesquely named iVotronics’ manufacturer claiming that we, the voting public, have no right to know how (or if) their machines work, I’m outraged all over again.

Of all the races where there could have been problems with electronic voting machines, isn’t it funny that the one where the Bush Administration lobbied most heavily is the one that looks the most tampered with?

By now, everyone knows the story: Buchanan, according to his own internal polling, was behind Democrat Christine Jennings by three to six points going into the election. Jennings voters, upon exiting the booths, immediately reported difficulties with the touch-screen interface in that one race.

Not in dispute is how many voters were affected — about 18,000. The reason why 18,000 voters drove all the way down to the polling place, signed up for a ballot, cast a vote in every other race on that ballot, and then just stopped, is less clear.

Depending on who you listen to, 18,000 random folks lost interest and whiffed off just as they were about to choose between Buchanan and Jennings. Another theory holds that 18,000 people participated in a mass, extemporaneous protest of negative ads which somehow failed to stop them from voting in the governor’s race. That was the one where Republican Charlie Crist ran a month-long ad blitz with an empty chair portraying his opponent.

As we reported just before the election, Buchanan had some heavyweight support. Both Pres. and Mrs. Bush appeared on his behalf, with Laura making multiple visits. America’s mayor, Rudy himself, stumped for Buchanan, and the Vice President even left the secret bunker to make rare, daylight appearances. No doubt his garlic necklace kept him safe.

Yet, of all the races where there could have been problems with electronic voting machines, isn’t it a funny coincidence that the one where the Bush Administration lobbied most heavily is the one that looks the most tampered with?

And with ES&S, the machine’s maker, refusing to divulge how its machines work, things are getting fishier and fishier. Can you imagine the makers of optical scanning machines refusing to tell anyone how it scans ballots? Excuse me? When did Americans make a deal to be kept in the dark about the accuracy of vote counting? Was I out of the room?

It’s time for us all to wake up and smell the tuna — and this one’s been decomposing since Nov. 7.

One comment

  • sam
    December 27, 2006 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    Miguel DeGrandy, a lawyer for ES&S Inc., contends that Christine Jennings (and a bevy of concerned voters) has not shown enough specific evidence to warrant a review of their clandestine computer codes. This is the sort of paradox that Joseph Heller would have a field day with!
    Voter: Pardon me. Might we have a gander at those hash codes?
    ES&S: We won’t show you the hash codes. You don’t have enough evidence to warrant an investigation of our hash codes.
    Voter: Well, where do I get the evidence to warrant an investigation?
    ES&S: I guess you’d have to look at the hash codes.
    Voter: But I can’t see the hash codes?’
    ES&S: Unfortunately, no. They’re a proprietary secret and can only be revealed when sufficient evidence is presented that there has been a malfunction.
    Voter: And to provide sufficient evidence I would have to see—
    ES&S: The hash codes, yes.

    A classic Catch 22 which, in effect, grants the proprietary secrets of ES&S more legal protection than the voting rights of 18, 000 Americans. It would be funny if it weren’t so heartbreaking and dangerous to our democracy.

    The overwhelming reaction to Christine Jennings’ unrelenting and seemingly unwinnable battle is one of disgust. Sally Tibbets, a spokesperson for Vern Buchanan, insists that Jennings is “ignoring the will of the people and undermining voter confidence in the democratic process”. Well, maybe our confidence in the democratic process SHOULD be undermined. I would go so far as to say it already is.

    Representative Tom Feeny says that Jennings goal is not voter reform but instead a “total political dictatorship’.

    The avoidance of this kind of histrionic, partisan outrage is probably what was behind the decisions of Gore and Kerry when they folded prematurely. It seems that when one stands their ground and uses their position to protest an issue that is patently absurd in its transparency they stand to be chastised, called cry babies, egomaniacs, and forced to face political ruin by such just the sort of hyperbole that Rep. Feeny is spouting. The simple fact is, the to chagrin of her detractors, that Ms. Jennings has nothing to lose and this sort of verbal bullying will not dissuade her from tackling this issue head on. The American public has been victimized by one of two things a)official incompetence or b) official dishonesty. In any event, Jennings and her outraged constituents will personally see to it that these sort of shenanigans are brought out into the open, investigated in earnest, and remedied before another era of dishonesty, tyranny, and cronyism is ushered in by complicitly programmed computers.

    I challenge anyone who takes issue with this investigation to tell me why this process shouldn’t be permitted. If election officials and ES&S spokespeople are so certain that there were no computer errors then why not give up the hash codes and allow independent investigation? The threat of undermining voters’ confidence in the democratic process comes not from asking questions but from refusing to find answers to them.

    Sam Mossler
    Sarasota, FL

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