Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Diebold, Meet Hugo Chavez

After the 2004 elections, there were a number of Democratic voters who questioned whether or not Bush stole the election through the use of electronic voting systems in Ohio. Those machines were made by Diebold, a company with a CEO who openly supported Republicans and who, at one point, said he was committed to helping Bush win Ohio.

Despite rampant conspiracy theories, there is no solid evidence that Diebold’s machines were used to steal the election. But it’s not hard to see how someone would come to the conclusion that there was something fishy going on in Ohio. Computers exist to manipulate information. It wouldn’t take much for an unscrupulous man or woman to rig an election.

That’s why we should all be concerned that the Venezuelan-controlled company Smartmatic, which has close ties to American-bashing President Hugo Chavez, has just acquired one of the largest makers of electronic voting machines in the U.S. Many election experts suspect that Smartmatic helped Chavez corrupt the most recent Venezuelan vote and may have even stole the election for Chavez.

I’m one of the last people you’ll find participating in conspiracy theories, but it’s hardly a loss of reason to question Smartmatic’s loyalties. Which brings up a more fundamental question: should we trust our democracy to computers and their programmers? Any voting system can be corrupted, but computers allow for easy and traceless manipulation. Even with e-voting that provides paper records, the chances of someone being able to rig an election certainly increase when computers are used.

A lot of people on the left felt Diebold may have stolen the 2004 election. And I imagine a lot of people on the right are going to be less than thrilled with the leftist Chavez’s ties to our voting system. Perhaps then this is an issue we can all agree upon. As convenient and speedy as computers are, our democracy is better protected with paper ballots.


A tip of the Stetson goes to fellow Texan moderate blogger, Dyre Portents.

3 Comments:

Blogger Rob Jackson said...

the statement "It wouldn't take much of an unscupulous man or woman to rig an election" just isn't how computer programming works in reality.

It wouldn't take one man or woman...it would take a series of men and women to rig an electronic election. We have to remember that computer programs aren't made in a vacuum.

Programs are generally coded by teams. The whole team would have to be corrupt. Then the next team who tests the program would all have to be corrupt. Then the people who buy the program (and who I would hope test the system) would have to be corrupt, etc.

So, my conclusion is that it doesn't matter whether it's electonic or paper...it takes a village. It may be a cleaner or more sexier rigging...but it's just as difficult to pull off.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Tom Strong said...

I would love it if this actually led to a bipartisan move to ban voting machines, or at least ensure more protections. Unfortunately, I can't see that happening in the current political climate.

So, may the best cheater win...

2:57 PM  
Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Rob,

But a very small team could throw a national electronic election whereas it would take a very, very large team to throw a national election using paper ballots.

It just makes manipulation a bit too easy for my tastes.

3:01 PM  

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