Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Election Nervous Breakdown

The state is among several ranked as "High Risk" for voting machine tampering or malfunctions today. Since Tennessee uses electronic machines, we "do not produce an independent, voter-verifiable paper record that could be used in the case of a recount or audit." The full report on the factors involved is here.

The sad fact is that that since the 2000 presidential election, confidence in the security, accuracy and the counting and casting of votes remains in doubt as little has been done to address the problems. How they work, how we use them, and much more continues to be nebulous quandary for the vast majority of voters. And since 2000, there has not been an election where critical questions on accuracy have not emerged, either locally or nationally.

Nashville filmmaker David Earnhardt has been screening his movie documenting the uncertainties, "Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections" and holding discussions after each screening. The movie website is here.

So in addition to the "act-of-faith" element to a voter's decision in general, there is even more when pondering if and how the votes are counted. If oversight of the just how the machine works and how to correct malfunctions exists only in the hands of the few ....

The state legislature has a Voter Confidence Act Study Committee did meet last week, and committee member Rep. Susan Lynn says some legislation is being reviewed:

Because of the concerns over ballotless voting equipment, some states reconsidered their use of electronic equipment in the 2006 elections. Congress is currently considering banning equipment without a paper ballot and funding replacement machines.

Tennessee House Bill 1256 would mandate replacement of all electronic voting machines without a paper ballot at a cost of $25 million. I believe that the General Assembly should commit to fund this legislation whether or not Congress sends us the money. HB 1282, legislation that I have sponsored each year since 2004, will ensure that going forward, all new voting equipment purchased in Tennessee will have a paper ballot.

A frightening quote by Joseph Stalin states, "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." Tyranny relies on secret processes controlled by a scant few. The Voter Confidence Act Study Committee has voted to put the ballot back into the hands of the people. Let us pray the General Assembly will ultimately vote to do the same."

Today, as we vote, none of these proposed changes will apply, even 8 years after the chaos of the 2000 election.

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