July 27, 2004 7:40 PM   Subscribe

DOWN FOR THE COUNT At around 8:50, Soubirous’s campaign manager, Brian Floyd, received a call from an election observer in Temecula informing him that the vote count had been stopped – apparently by Registrar Mischelle Townsend herself. The reason was not made clear. So Floyd and another Soubirous campaigner named Art Cassel jumped into a car and drove to Townsend’s office to investigate. Sure enough, the counting area appeared to be near-deserted. But then they noticed two men huddled at one of the vote tabulation computers.
posted by jonah (53 comments total)
Well, the company that wrote the software and built the machines has had a pretty hard time recently. So none of this is beyond belief at all.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 8:12 PM on July 27, 2004

It's not entirely clear to me why American voting machines _don't_ have a paper record. The machines we use in Canada do, so it's not as if such machines don't exist. A purely electronic record seems like asking for electoral fraud.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:18 PM on July 27, 2004

Obligatory Stalin quote: "It doesn’t matter who votes. It only matters who counts the votes."
posted by MiG at 8:24 PM on July 27, 2004

Paul Krugman wrote an excellent op-ed about this today in the NYT. Krugman uses this incident as a jumping off point to discuss other voting problems, especially in Florida:

This year, Florida again hired a private company - Accenture, which recently got a homeland security contract worth up to $10 billion - to prepare a felon list. [...] The Miami Herald quickly discovered that 2,100 citizens who had been granted clemency, restoring their voting rights, were nonetheless on the banned-voter list. Then The Sarasota Herald-Tribune discovered that only 61 of more than 47,000 supposed felons were Hispanic. So the list would have wrongly disenfranchised many legitimate African-American voters, while wrongly enfranchising many Hispanic felons. It escaped nobody's attention that in Florida, Hispanic voters tend to support Republicans...
posted by limitedpie at 8:31 PM on July 27, 2004

By hook or by crook but never by book Bush intends to steal the election by any means necessary.

The overt criminality of this regime never fails to totally astound me.
posted by fenriq at 8:44 PM on July 27, 2004

What boggles me, is why this isn't big news. Why can I not turn around with hearing the quote "shove it", but I have to get this from a free local rag?
posted by jonah at 8:53 PM on July 27, 2004

This is big news, I finally read all the way through the article and its amazing how corrupt the election appears to be and the "overseers" of that election are just cronies of the guy who won (again).

The depths of criminality that people will stoop and then proclaim very loudly that they did nothing wrong is appalling.
posted by fenriq at 9:13 PM on July 27, 2004

we're just going to have to get over the fact that our elections are rigged and move on with out lives. so what if the president was never really elected and is now rigging the election in his favor? it's called a plebiscite and it happens all over the place.
just like terrorism.
posted by fuq at 9:27 PM on July 27, 2004

pleb·i·scite ( P ) Pronunciation Key (plb-st, -st)
1. A direct vote in which the entire electorate is invited to accept or refuse a proposal: The new constitution was ratified in a plebiscite.
2. A vote in which a population exercises the right of national self-determination.

By the way, an interesting typo there, putting out where you meant to put our. Let's ALL move on without lives, I'm just curious how.
posted by fenriq at 9:48 PM on July 27, 2004

Lost Record of Vote in '02 Florida Race Raises '04 Concern

Almost all the electronic records from the first widespread use of touch-screen voting in Miami-Dade County have been lost, stoking concerns that the machines are unreliable as the presidential election draws near.

The records disappeared after two computer system crashes last year, county elections officials said, leaving no audit trail for the 2002 gubernatorial primary. A citizens group uncovered the loss this month after requesting all audit data from that election.

A county official said a new backup system would prevent electronic voting data from being lost in the future. But members of the citizens group, the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, said the malfunction underscored the vulnerability of electronic voting records and wiped out data that might have shed light on what problems, if any, still existed with touch-screen machines here. The group supplied the results of its request to The New York Times.

"This shows that unless we do something now - or it may very well be too late - Florida is headed toward being the next Florida," said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, a lawyer who is the chairwoman of the coalition.

posted by y2karl at 10:01 PM on July 27, 2004

It's not entirely clear to me why American voting machines _don't_ have a paper record

A lot of areas do. In Wisconsin we use paper ballots, and I know a lot of other area's do too.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:22 PM on July 27, 2004

I have yet to hear a single compelling argument against paper records for touch-screen systems. I mean, does anyone here oppose it? Would anyone who did not stand to benefit from a proprietary and/or manipulable system oppose it?
posted by argybarg at 11:25 PM on July 27, 2004

I have yet to hear a single compelling argument against paper records for touch-screen systems. I mean, does anyone here oppose it? Would anyone who did not stand to benefit from a proprietary and/or manipulable system oppose it?

Well, it seems kind of pointless for the purpose of preventing fraud. First, if you're going to count the electronic ballots then count the paper ballots, you lose the time savings that you do get with electronic voting. Second, if the paper ballots are only counted in case of a recount being triggered, the cheaters would just manipulate the electronic ballots into a wide enough of a margin to not trigger the recount. Paper records are a must have in an electronic voting system I agree, but it seems it wouldn't do that much good in preventing fraud.
posted by gyc at 11:42 PM on July 27, 2004

gyc: Paper wouldn't stop all fraud by itself (as it doesn't now) but it would make fraud more difficult, and above all, it makes reconstructing the vote possible. And that can be part of a chain of things you can do to make them trustworthy.

One possible chaing:

(1) Have a touchscreen, which not only tallies votes, but prints out two paper records -- a scanable receipt for the voter, and a scanable record for the voting district.

(2) Upon vote completion, the voter hands the scanable reciept to election judges, who run it through a scanner to come up with a seperate tally, and place it in a box for available recount.

(3) At the close of polls, tallies are checked between the two counting methods (and, say, perhaps exit polls). Wide discrepancies trigger both a by-hand and by-scan recount (and maybe even a citizen reciept return).

This part of the article really bugged me:

he wrote to Townsend expressing his dismay at her refusal “to provide information which has already been generated, and should have been retained by you in the ordinary course of your official business,” her lawyers wrote back that the materials requested were “not relevant to the counting of ballots” and, in many cases, did not exist – for reasons they did not elaborate. The materials, the lawyers argued, would become relevant only if it could be shown that they had been subject to fraud or error – an argument that turns the issue on its head because, of course, the only way to find out if anything is wrong is to inspect the materials first.

How in the world can people actually get *away* with this stuff? What kind of person does this sort of non-logic actually convince?
posted by weston at 12:18 AM on July 28, 2004

Just out of curiosity, how long does it actually take for an American polling team to count ballots? I worked on the Canadian election, and our entire central polling place was counted within about 45 minutes of the polls closing. Now, I know you guys have to vote on a ridiculous number of offices, but does it really add that much time to the whole process?
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 12:21 AM on July 28, 2004

In Indiana, we've just switched to digital voting, and it's been screwy as all hell. In one local election, the machines tallied 144,000 votes in a district that only had 19,000 registered voters, and only 5,352 actual votes [link] and in our primaries this year, 20 precincts ran out of the optical scan sheets that you mark and feed into the machines- people were waiting an hour or more just to get a sheet, and quite a few people were ultimately turned away because Indiana law requires that the polls close at six pm. [link.] Frankly, I miss our manual lever machines, and the more I hear about the digital machines, the more I fear for our elections.
posted by headspace at 3:58 AM on July 28, 2004

Just out of curiosity, how long does it actually take for an American polling team to count ballots?

In my state, usually just a few hours. If polls close at 8:00, most of the precincts will have reported their results by midnight. Florida was a complete anomaly.
posted by jpoulos at 5:33 AM on July 28, 2004

Here's a voting system that is totally transparent and more or less impossible to fix, as long as representatives of the interested parties (and/or independent scrutineers) monitor all stages:

1. Voter makes a cross on a paper ballot
2. Voter inserts ballot into sealed box
3. Polling station officials take the boxes to a local authority centre
4. Local officials open boxes under public supervision
5. Volunteers drawn from all parties count the ballots and cross-check totals
6. Local official communicates total count to regional centre
7. Regional centre tallies and submits totals to state authority

Can someone please explain to me why voting machines were ever considered a good idea in the first place?
posted by cbrody at 5:50 AM on July 28, 2004

EXACTLY, cbrody - I'm reading these comments on a late-model laptop, with my PDA, cell phone and digital camera sitting on the desk nearby, and I STILL can't think of a compelling reason for electronic voting machines. Chads, bad. Poor graphic design of butterfly ballots, bad. But the optical scanners we use in San Francisco work just, fine, thank you, as do a variety of other paper-based systems. This is our fault, you know - all of us technoweenies whose fetish for electronics has led us to persuade the world that if anything can be done analog then it can be done better digitally... Mea culpa...
posted by twsf at 6:01 AM on July 28, 2004

First, if you're going to count the electronic ballots then count the paper ballots, you lose the time savings that you do get with electronic voting.

Not so. The electronic count can be used as the preliminary and uncertified count where the paper ballots can then be slowly counted to provide assurances of an accurate electronic count. Any discrepancies would naturally go in favor of the paper records. This would then provide a certifiable voter count and an auditable trail, a "good thing."
posted by nofundy at 6:06 AM on July 28, 2004

It's not entirely clear to me why American voting machines _don't_ have a paper record.

If you mean electronic ones, they do; it was just buried inside the case and left switched-off in the original Diebold designs. To the best of my knowledge, no one has explained that omission -- I'm tempted to chalk it up to simple design arrogance, rather than Diebold planning to be complicit in election fraud.

Aside: I thought Canada used all hand-filled paper ballots. Was I wrong about that? If not, when did you switch?
posted by lodurr at 6:24 AM on July 28, 2004

Actually, one of the things you don't want to do is to give the voter a receipt that they're allowed to take out of the voting facility. That would allow people to prove to others how they voted, which opens up another door for voter fraud.
posted by bshort at 6:30 AM on July 28, 2004


The Federal election uses hand-filled paper ballots which are manually counted, but (at least in my municipality) locally we fill out our ballots, which are then inserted into a scanner attached to the ballot box. I'm not sure if they use the scanner results or hand count the ballot.
posted by smcniven at 6:42 AM on July 28, 2004

The one thing I ask is this: Who cares how long it takes to count the damn votes? I would kindly wait a day if it meant that there was 99% chance that vote fraud would be nil. Is this just another manifestation of our culture's obsession with winning? I will trade more time for increased security and validity any day. What is the design axiom - the more parts moving the more chance it has to break? With something as important as elections, why not add a verified paper receipt which goes into a sealed box which is used as a verification of the votes? Why not make the software open source? I agree, there is no legitimate negative answer to both questions.
posted by plemeljr at 7:39 AM on July 28, 2004

we're just going to have to get over the fact that our elections are rigged and move on with out lives.

Interesting slip, that second to last word...
posted by warhol at 8:08 AM on July 28, 2004

One important thing bear in mind when considering electronic voting machines is that their advantages go beyond speeding up the vote counting process. I've always assumed that the strongest argument in favor of these machines is that they present a less confusing interface to the voter. The voter touches the name of the person they're voting for, for example. That way people are actually casting votes for the person they want to vote for and not for another person who was conveniently located next to the person they wanted to vote for on the ballot. The compelling argument is the butterfly-ballot from the last US presidential election -- these new machines are supposed to prevent erroneous votes for Pat Buchanan. The speed increase in tallying votes is just a happy by-product.
posted by HiddenInput at 8:08 AM on July 28, 2004

One important aspect to consider when designing the voting process is that half of all people have two-digit IQs.
posted by spazzm at 8:19 AM on July 28, 2004

Stories like this make me glad I live in an antiquated city with old, creaky manual voting machines. Still, I'm terrified that Bush and his Diebold cronies will manage to steal this election. I can't even imagine what another Florida disaster would do to the general faith in our democracy....I'm a bed-wetting liberal, but another election stolen by Bush would be enough to make me riot in the streets.
posted by junkbox at 8:42 AM on July 28, 2004

Now, I know you guys have to vote on a ridiculous number of offices, but does it really add that much time to the whole process?

<Baruka Salt>But I want to know the tally NOW

No, it's far too important that we not lose those precious minutes not knowing who won.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:03 AM on July 28, 2004

Actually, one of the things you don't want to do is to give the voter a receipt that they're allowed to take out of the voting facility. That would allow people to prove to others how they voted, which opens up another door for voter fraud.

bshort - How so?
posted by Coffeemate at 9:18 AM on July 28, 2004

Coffeemate: I will pay you 100 dollars to vote for Y candidate. Bring back your receipt so I know you followed through.
posted by headspace at 9:20 AM on July 28, 2004

"We can't even design an email program which is immune to error. What makes us think we can design a computerized voting system?"

posted by callmejay at 9:20 AM on July 28, 2004

I know I'm probably missing something obvious, even though I do have a BIT of background in programming, but... how hard could it BE to make a voting program? Why are the Diebold ones screwing up so amazingly? Seriously - can anyone illuminate this dark corner for me? (nods to callmejay)
posted by thunder at 9:22 AM on July 28, 2004

"What boggles me, is why this isn't big news." - Well, I'd refer you to the now at least slightly famous Editor and Publisher Magazine study which showed that - since the 1930's - editors and owners of major print media publications have tended to endorse, and by a good sized margin, Republican presidential nominees. Or to PIPA's studies showing that heavy listeners to public radio tended to be only 25% misinformed on Iraq while those watching FOX were 75% misinformed.

So - Fox=propaganda, NPR="propaganda lite"

Here's a wee page I just put together to aggregate some recent info and research into the issue of media bias.

HiddenInput - your Metafilter name rebuts your comment quite handily : " The voter touches the name of the person they're voting for, for example. That way people are actually casting votes for the person they want to vote for and not for another person who was conveniently located next to the person they wanted to vote for on the ballot." - People think they are casting votes for the person they want to vote for.

Until a Diebold or Sequoia programmer makes a minor code tweak to throw a few thousand of those votes (or a few hundred thousand even ) to the Republican candidate.

Hidden Input. It's so handy, eh ?
posted by troutfishing at 9:25 AM on July 28, 2004

"how hard could it BE to make a voting program?" - Oh, it's VERY, VERY hard.....when you're running it on Windows!

Just think of the constant security upgrades, patches, the threat of worms, viruses, trojan horse programs......
posted by troutfishing at 9:35 AM on July 28, 2004

troutfishing: I don't dispute your take on this. There certainly is a wide-open field for vote manipulation. My point was simply that faster vote tallying was not the driving force behind switching to things like touchscreen voting systems.
posted by HiddenInput at 9:49 AM on July 28, 2004

Let's pass H.R.2239/S.1980.

The move for verified voting - with a paper trail - picks up steam. Check out the VerifiedVoting site database to see whether or not your Congressperson or Senator supports paper-trail voting !

And - if they do NOT support H.R.2239/S.1980, ask them WHY.


Technologists warn that electronic voting machines are flawed. They say we should "trust but verify." Others disagree. For example Florida's Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore counters technologists' analysis of electronic voting machine flaws with her claim: "It's just a bunch of lies."  But Broward County is now unable to comply with Florida law because of the flaws technologists, Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), and many others have pointed out!

Many people are very troubled by the use of uncertified software in recent California elections. Many are concerned about the backgrounds of some programmers and managers who control the secret voting machine software.

Our primary concern is the threat that unverifiable electronic voting poses to elections in the United States. We have been concerned that without a paper record verified by the voter, there would be no way of knowing whether votes were recorded accurately and no way to do a meaningful recount if one is necessary.

Now we are seeing these predicted problems occurring in real elections. We are seeing election results that will remain forever in dispute because an audit was impossible. We are seeing that electronic miscounts of votes is no longer a theory - it's a fact.

What if the miscounts we know of are only the tip of an undetected iceberg of electronic miscounts? They might be. We have no way of knowing.

Let's solve the problem before November 2004.
Let's pass H.R.2239/S.1980."

posted by troutfishing at 10:26 AM on July 28, 2004

I don't really see how paper printouts prevent fraud. The software necessary to print them, scan them in, or tally the hand count or aggregate the precinct totals are all potential points of subversion. In the end I don't see how we can remove humans from any step in the process without introducing opportunity for fraud.
posted by billsaysthis at 10:37 AM on July 28, 2004

lodurr> We use hand-counted paper ballots for federal elections, while municipal and some provincial elections use electronic scanners. I've never checked myself, but I was told that it had to do with a law requiring standardised voting equipment across the area being polled. So, buying a hundred scanning machines for Toronto is relatively cheap for the city government to do, but buying a hundred thousand for the entire country is pretty expensive, and not something the FedGov wants to spend cash on.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 10:53 AM on July 28, 2004

Let us note: This year, Florida again hired a private company - Accenture...

Accenture is a Bermuda-based tax-dodge. It is a spin-off of Anderson Consulting, which underwent a very messy breakup from Arthur Anderson, accountants. Arthur Anderson was convicted of obstruction of justice for destroying Enron-related documents; AA was also involved with WorldCom, QWest, Halliburton, and Harken Energy. Cheney made a promotional video with AA, praising their "good work."

Accenture is currently under investigation for "an incident of possible noncompliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and/or with Accenture's internal controls in connection with certain of Accenture's operations in the Middle East."

So, basically, Accenture is an offshore outsourcing company with deep Republican ties. Way to go, Florida!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:59 AM on July 28, 2004

Here's what I consider to be the scary part of the article that y2karl quoted:
The flaws would not have affected vote counts, he said - only the backup data used for audits after an election. And because a new state rule prohibits manual recounts in counties that use touch-screen voting machines except in the event of a natural disaster, there would likely be no use for the data anyway.
What possible reason could there be for such a rule? I can think of plenty of reasons you'd want a manual recount...such as the number-of-votes anomalies that headspace referred to.
posted by Vidiot at 11:02 AM on July 28, 2004

I've never understood the idea that things are inherently clearer because they're on a computer screen. In fact, in my experience, moving from hard copy to digital almost always entails a decrease in usability of the specific object being migrated.

You can improve usability by moving from hardcopy to digital, mind you. Most typically, though, you improve the usability of the process, not the specific instrumentalities.

Now, as for what good a paper receipt would do: It would make it harder. Consider that we're not really talking about a discrete receipt; we're talking about an audit reel, that keeps a tamper-evident record of what was done and can be used for a recount. Optical-scan ballots are a good example of such a system in practice: You have to match the number of ballots to the number of votes tallied, and match the tallies.

If you've got a paper audit reel, that's a very tamper-evident record. And those Diebold machiens, at least, were originally designed with just that sort of an audit trail in mind. As I understand it, they were adapted from point-source data collection terminals that were required to keep a hardcopy audit trail; why they didn't anticipate that as a need in a voting machine is beyond me, but again, I prefer to think it was more a matter of arrogant design rather than malice.

Another comment up-thread stuck out for me: Why do we care that it's done so fast? Well, the answer is simple: Because we're spoiled modern capitalists, and we can't deal with waiting a day for the returns.

The Canadian national systm, though -- at least as I understand it -- is all hand-tallied and returns results within 90 minutes of the last poll closure in the westernmost province. We could do that, too; but it would require making the election methods truly national, rather than state-by-state, and I actually have some reasons why I think state-by-state is better. Short version is that when a system is less homogeneous, it's generally less gameable....
posted by lodurr at 11:14 AM on July 28, 2004

fff - Thanks for the background on "Accenture".....that corporate name reminds me of a crude, cheap, overpowering bathroom deodorant.

I once knew an old guy who mixed a chemical bathroom deodorant for part of his business line. Eventually, he got a brain tumor and died.
posted by troutfishing at 11:16 AM on July 28, 2004

Just saying.
posted by troutfishing at 11:17 AM on July 28, 2004

lodurr - Ironically, Diebold seems to be very capable of making widely used, relaible, tamper-resistant electronic banking machines - which have built in redundancy and also provide paper receipts of transactions.

I guess, for Diebold and it's ilk, the Democratic process merits less care and attention than normally paid to routine financial transactions.
posted by troutfishing at 11:22 AM on July 28, 2004

Why not have, as some have already suggested, a system where the machine prints and displays a paper receipt (behind a clear plastic window, say) but doesn't allow the voter to access it? It can print the vote that you've chosen, and then ask you to approve (or not) the printed copy, before finally recording it. Just a thought.
posted by Vidiot at 11:24 AM on July 28, 2004

In Florida there is a currently a ban on electronic voting machine recounts and the state is fighting against having to provide a paper printout. About half of the votes in Florida in this year's presidential election will be cast on electronic voting machines. This does not bode well for Florida or the election in Nov.

This article was in our local paper today.

Northwest Florida Daily News 7/28/04

Groups challenge Florida ban on voting machine recounts

TALLAHASSEE (AP) — A coalition of election reform groups asked an administrative law judge Tuesday to strike a state rule that prevents counties using touchscreen voting machines from conducting manual recounts from the machines.

State election officers say touchscreen recounts are not needed since the machines tell each voter if they’re skipping a race, known as an undervote, and won’t let them vote twice for the same race, known as an overvote. The officials also maintain that the computer systems running the machines can be trusted to accurately count the votes as they’re cast, and give the final numbers when needed.

But lawyers representing the American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause of Florida, People for the American Way Foundation and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said the state should require a paper trail in case a physical recount is needed, as it was in the 2000 presidential race in Florida.

"I have concern about votes that are cast, but not recorded," said Howard Simon, executive director for ACLU of Florida, adding that democracy depends on an open, fair and reliable electoral system.

Election supervisors from some of the 15 counties using thouchscreens had asked the state if they would need to go through the laborious process of printing screen images of each ballot during a recount. That could involve about half the votes cast in a statewide election — Florida had about six million presidential votes in 2000 — since the touchscreen counties include the state’s most populous.

The Division of Elections then ruled that state law only requires a recount to determine voters’ intent, and that it is impossible to question voter intent with touchscreen ballots.

The state’s other 52 counties use optiscan technology, in which computers read voters’ pencil marks on paper ballots, and would be able to do physical recounts in races where the margin of victory is less than one-half of 1 percent of the votes cast.

At the same time the hearing was being held, Secretary of State Glenda Hood was conducting a hands-on demonstration of the two types of voting systems.

"We want to make sure that the people of Florida have the highest level of confidence in the systems that are in place," she said. "We are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were in 2000 and we are far ahead of most every other state in the nation."

Judge Susan B. Kirkland has 30 days to make her decision after receiving the transcript, which is due back in 10 working days.

Florida’s voting system has been under a microscope since the 2000 debacle, when it took five weeks of hostile legal maneuvering and a group of recounts before

Republican George W. Bush was declared president on the strength of a 537 vote advantage over Democrat Al Gore.

Despite the state spending millions of dollars on improvements in new technology and voter education, the scrutiny has remained, thanks in part to several botched or questioned elections in the past three years in some parts of Florida.

Hood’s office has also been the target of other suits by felons seeking to have their voting rights restored.
Tuesday’s hearing before a Division of Administration hearing judge sought assurances on the touchscreen systems.

John L. Seibel, president of TrueBallot, Inc., a Marylandbased company that designs and build elections systems and administers elections, mostly for labor unions, said the lack of an audit system makes it anyone’s guess what happened during the voting process.

"There is no way to know, period," testified Seibel, an attorney who said he has spent 10 years working with voting machine technology in his business.

"What the computer is doing with the data, you simply have no idea," he testified, adding it can also contribute to frustrated voters sometimes leaving without voting.

Those concerns, Florida attorney George Waas argued, weren’t sufficient to give standing to the plaintiffs.

"They’re not entitled to a manual recount," he said.

He said the touchscreen technology provides for the intent of the voter up front and informs the voter on issues or races they did not cast a vote.
posted by wsg at 11:25 AM on July 28, 2004

Optical scanners... they seem to offer many of the benefits of numerous systems. Quick, paper trail, if the ballot layout is effective it is as simple as strictly paper ballots. We use them in MN (or at least this part of MN) and there haven’t been any concerns over operations or fraud.
Why the hell can't there be a nation wide consistency in voting technology? Seems like Canada’s idea of requiring votes cast for the same candidate/office be counted using the same method is reasonable. (Perhaps a 25% political ad tax to be distributed in funding elections equipment and related costs to fund such a venture?)
Additionally, I agree with thunder. How hard can voting software be to create... JJC it's only a glorified counting program. Get the makers of ATM software to do it, sheesh.
posted by edgeways at 11:37 AM on July 28, 2004

Get the makers of ATM software to do it, sheesh.

See, that's the problem...the biggest maker of ATMs is none other than Diebold...who also makes voting machines. And whose CEO has vowed to deliver votes to President Bush.
posted by Vidiot at 11:44 AM on July 28, 2004

(Perhaps a 25% political ad tax to be distributed in funding elections equipment and related costs to fund such a venture?)

Or not.

Australia's elections operator is reknown for its efficiency and competence. It makes its money through fees paid by corporations, muncipalities, etc., that wish to hold a well-run, secure, trustworthy vote. I believe it does the federal election for free or break-even. It does its job so well that it is in high demand for any sizeable vote, public or private.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:23 PM on July 28, 2004

Vidiot - why not indeed. So's profound! - transparency.
posted by troutfishing at 8:28 PM on July 28, 2004

"Australia's elections operator is reknown for its efficiency and competence." : maybe the US should hire that company - to teach Americans the way of modern democracy.
posted by troutfishing at 8:31 PM on July 28, 2004

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