Fracking Democracy

IT’S ENOUGH to make you want to move to another country. Trust me when I say that I love America — the home of red-white-and-blue, dyed-in-the-wool folks who believe in a day’s work for a day’s pay — who would stand in line for hours to cast a vote for democracy because it’s the right thing to do.

I love an America whose roots reach back to soil enriched by the blood of our forefathers. I love an America that says each and every man and woman has a voice — and that each voice carries equal weight.What kills me is that this America — the one I thought I lived in — doesn’t exist.

If you have access to HBO through your local cable or satellite provider, make a point of watching the documentary called Hacking Democracy. But one caveat: Prepare to be disillusioned. The documentary exposes the fragility of our voting system — a system heavily dependent upon insecure if not intentionally corrupt software.

HBO’s website for Hacking Democracy explains how the whole magilla began:

In the 2000 presidential election, an electronic voting machine recorded minus 16,022 votes for Al Gore in Volusia County, Fla. While fraud was never proven, the faulty tally alerted computer scientists, politicians and everyday citizens to the very real possibility of computer hacking during elections.

In 2002, Seattle grandmother and writer Bev Harris asked officials in her county why they had acquired electronic touch screen systems for their elections. Unsatisfied with their explanation, she set out to learn about electronic voting machines on her own. In the course of her research, which unearthed hundreds of reported incidents of mishandled voting information, Harris stumbled across an “online library” of the Diebold Corporation, discovering a treasure trove of information about the inner-workings of the company’s voting system.

Bev Harris is an ‘everywoman’ type, who looks as if she’d be more at home baking oatmeal cookies or reading stories to her grandchildren than tilting at windmills, but she assumes the Don Quixote role with grace and vigor. She and a cadré of fellow outraged citizens demand answers of election officials, and when they don’t find those answers satisfactory, ransack trash bins behind election headquarters for paper nuggets of pure gold.

As I watched Harris and Company trudge from meeting to meeting, sift through bags of refuse, and generally use the brains God gave us to find the truth behind election fraud, I couldn’t help feeling a bit proud. Despite the overall disgust with our political system (a system where a so-called unbiased voting machine company like Diebold can actually solicit funds for the Republican Party and get away with it), my American blood stirred at the thought that one woman could make a difference.

Bev Harris reveals the man behind the curtain in our electoral process, and his visage is unsettling indeed. If you have not yet seen Hacking Democracy, then make a point to watch it — tonight. It’s available ‘on demand’ here in Columbia, so it’s likely that you’ll find it available in your hometown as well.

If you still think you can fill in a circle on a scantron sheet or press a button on a screen — and that your vote is fairly counted, then prepare your American heart for a shock. I’ve always suspected that any election could be rigged — now, we can see how it’s done — or more to the point — how it WAS done in 2000 and 2004.As for me, my American blood is boiling. We’ve not just been hacked, America. But as they say on Battlestar Gallactica — we’ve been FRACKED.