Thursday, October 16, 2003

Touch-screen hacking. 

This is an issue that frightens me more than any other right now, as there is no way to determine if the companies who manufacture voting machines, have hacked their own machines in favor of certain candidates. There are many sub-issues to this issue, sub-plots and what appear to be schemes. It is very much like venturing down the rabbit hole and swallowing the pill, in order to understand the terrain. The terrain in this case is the possibility of vanishing votes because there is no paper trail. The terrain is also little regulation and oversight over these new machines, so that we don't know what the heck the companies are doing to the machines when they institute software changes, patches, especially at the last minute, which has happened a number of times.

This is the most serious issue of our day and the greatest threat to democracy that we face. If we don't confront the companies and politicians that have bought into this electronic voting machine fallacy, then we may lose our democratic voting apparatus, and we'll lose our country.

From Salon.com, more on the issue, and on the wonderwoman Bev Harris, who began the questioning:

She began by looking into Election Systems & Software, the world's largest election supply company, based in Omaha, Neb. Harris quickly found that ES&S was owned, in part, by a merchant banking holding company called the McCarthy Group and that the firm's chairman, Michael McCarthy, was Chuck Hagel's campaign treasurer. After searching news archives, Harris found that during Hagel's first campaign, in 1996, the Nebraska media reported that he had been president of ES&S -- which at the time was called American Information Systems -- between 1992 and 1995. But the articles suggested that Hagel was no longer affiliated with the voting equipment company. Harris saw election records that showed Hagel still holding between $1 million and $5 million worth of stock in McCarthy, which owned about 25 percent of ES&S.

Harris had stumbled on what seemed to be a striking conflict of interest -- a U.S. senator owned a share in a company that built all the vote-counting machines in his state. She put up the relevant documents on her site, "and immediately I knew I'd hit a sore spot," she says, "because right away I got a threat letter from ES&S."