Friday, August 04, 2006

Control Alt Delete Democracy

Still working on JUST NORTH OF NOWHERE so I'm still having my blog guest-written. This is from the Long Island Press:

Control Alt Delete Democracy
Lazlow 08/03/2006 11:46 am

I am terribly unimpressed with the future. I don’t have a jet pack or a space car. I have to wait in line and be felt up for minimum wage before sitting on the tarmac for hours and then riding in an airborne cattle car with sweaty fat people and $5- snack boxes. Teleportation was supposed to be here. My car was supposed to fit in my suitcase. Robot maids stink. I’ve been through several robot maids, Roombas and Aibos alike. The future to me seems a lot like the past, except I can’t smoke at concerts, all the girls you think are real are fake, and there’s still nothing on TV.

I can, if I want, go online and vote against Bill Gates as CEO of Microsoft. If you own shares of any company, a proxy vote notification arrives via e-mail, and you log in, vote, and you’re done. It’s democracy that takes minutes. Why then is e-voting in this country the equivalent of a 50-car pileup with a gas tanker?

After the election mess of 2000, where tens of thousands of people in Florida were (oops) accidentally dropped off the voting rolls, 2004 saw a colossal failure of e-voting machines. And this next election will be no different.

American taxpayers have paid for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of computerized voting machines that are screaming for fraud and vote manipulation.
Diebold, the manufacturer of most of the e-voting machines in the country, even had a CEO in 2004 who promised to deliver Ohio to Bush. Ohio is still having issues.
According to CNN, in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, an election held on May 2 was an absolute failure, as Diebold e-voting machines dropped or displaced several hundred registered voters, froze up, or crashed.

Now some hacker activists have exposed a horrifying flaw with Diebold machines. After examining one of the most popular (and paperless) touch-screen voting machines used in public elections in the United States, Open Voting Foundation President Alan Dechert says the group found that by flipping a single switch inside, an election can be altered. “If you have access to these machines and you want to rig an election, anything is possible with the Diebold TS — and it could be done without leaving a trace. All you need is a screwdriver.”

Diebold has fought efforts for mandatory paper trails. I mean, it’s the future! Why double check? Diebold has also fought efforts to publish their code so democracy can be open source, published for the record and analyzed for flaws. Computer professor Avi Rubin at Johns Hopkins University studied the code and told CBS, “We found all kinds of problems in the code,” he said. “A computer scientist can look at a program and immediately tell you if it was written by professional programmers who know how to do software engineering or if it was just put together by a bunch of hacks. And, upon looking at the source code for Diebold, it was pretty clear that this was a real amateur job.”

Counting the votes is a core component of democracy. If e-voting is the future of elections, I’m not impressed.


Lazlow hosts the nationally syndicated radio program "Technofile" and wrote and produced audio for "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas."
Contact him at

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