Will your vote
My campaigning days are over, for myself at least, but I continue to be fascinated by the arcana of the election process. One would think that after 215 years we'd have the process perfected, but oh, no. Let's begin with the wild west.
Easterners think that
aspect of the
relative reliability of various voting machines was much in the news
Walden O'Dell, CEO of Diebold, Inc., which is vying to sell touch-screen voting machines in Ohio, recently caused an uproar when he told Republicans in a recent fund-raising letter that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." Whether anyone has ever actually tampered with the programs in a Diebold machine is not known, but Georgia's 2002 election in which they were used is considered suspicious. Modern polls taken close to an election are amazingly accurate, but in this case popular Vietnam war hero and triple amputee Senator Max Cleland lost on election day even though the polls of the weekend before showed him leading comfortably, and the same thing happened to Governor Roy Barnes. Five other surprises elsewhere in the country on the same day all involved Diebold machines.
By law, any company that wants to market a new model voting machine for use in this state must provide one for testing by experts hired by the state board of elections. Many years ago, while chairman of computer science at SUNYA, I and one other person were hired to analyze a new electronic machine. Our report warned that any machine whose operation depended on the execution of a stored program was susceptible to being hacked. I don't remember whether the particular machine under study was approved or not, and the issue lay dormant for decades.
I happen to like our venerable lever machines. They have no fallible electronic memory, and no memory of any kind other than the counters that tally votes. And they contain no computer code. They are "programmed" by presetting, under the watchful eyes of representatives of both major parties, many tens of little hooks that prevent overvoting in any category, even ones in which we can vote for multiple candidates, some of whose names appear on multiple lines. Yet, one must not be able to vote for the same person twice.
should know, but some
apparently do not, that moving a lever down and then back up will not
vote, and that no votes corresponding to depressed levers are tallied
master lever is pulled that opens the
privacy curtain. Schenectady County Election Commissioner Bob Brehm
that our upstate lever machines will not let you pull that master lever
you have voted for a proposition or for a candidate for at least one
Perhaps there are upstate people who would like to be credited with having shown up to vote without actually voting. So how would such a person be able to escape from behind a mechanically irretractable curtain without conspicuously parting it manually or crawling out from under it? There is a way, and I'll award 1,000 chads to the first one who calls me with the correct answer.
Ed Reilly lives in
Postscript: No one won the chads. What one could do
we be to open the panel that exposes a section of a paper roll on which
a write-in vote may be cast. But one may then just pull the master
lever without writing anything; the machine will "think" that you did.