Scourge of US elections: Electoral College, hackable voting machines & obscure rules
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a voter in the US to know and understand the rules regulating the administration of all elections, including elections for President of the United States.”
Hacking DemocracyAdd to the above debacles, the US Congress and the election authorities in the 50 states have authorized and encouraged the use of hackable electronic voting machines that are used for vote casting and vote tabulation. Bev Harris and her company, Black Box Voting, has accumulated horror stories surrounding the non-transparency of US elections. I have worked closely with Harris because the danger of these machines is self-evident to everyone except the officials who continue to purchase them for millions of dollars, putting millions of voters’ most precious political asset at risk.
Bernie beat Hillary by 22% but she'll break even in New Hampshire because of SuperDelegates. That is not democracy. The system is rigged.— John Dardenne (@johndardenne) February 10, 2016
In addition to the insecure hardware, I am sorry to write that the voter list is kept on an electronic device and if the voter’s name fails to appear on the list, the voter has little recourse.
In the US, votes and vote tabulation processes are done without any traceable back-up procedures. In other words, there is no paper trail - no receipt of a vote, as it were - whatsoever. In one of my Congressional elections in which the electronic voting machines “failed,” not only was I unable to obtain the election data despite a lawsuit having been filed, an expert witness for the state of Georgia testified that voters have to simply “trust” that the announced winner is the actual winner. Meanwhile, candidates have no access to the raw election data because that information is “owned” by Diebold—the company that produced the electronic voting machines and the software used by them (The documentary ‘American Blackout’ tells my own personal story with US elections). It is difficult to place trust in the US election system when we learn about the number of votes cast that go uncounted. In the 2000 Presidential election between Bush and Gore, between two million and five million Americans went to the polls and voted, yet their votes were thrown out, disqualified for any number of reasons. Half of those uncounted votes were cast by Black Americans.
Money, money, money
The sad truth is that much of what takes place resembles a horse race, or some kind of political theater designed specifically for public consumption. Each step of the process, whether it’s the hunt for delegates in the political party primary or the hunt for Electoral College votes after nominations have taken place, the real action takes place in the darkest recesses of the system, out of view. One could go so far as to say that the real action of US “democracy” takes place in the shadows.
So, what we are witnessing for public consumption is the hunt for delegates among the presidential contenders in the Republican Party and between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party. Until February 1, everything was basically kabuki theatre, advertising in order to lure an ample audience to enhance the profits of the major television, radio broadcasters and newspaper publishers. Donald Trump made this point repeatedly just before he decided to not participate any longer in the pre-February Republican Party Primary debates. He challenged CNN to donate some of its profits from debate ad sales to veterans’ charities—which, of course, CNN refused to do.
On February 1, the first popular voting actually took place. The Iowa Caucuses kicked off the delegate hunt. The Democratic candidates are trying to garner 2,382 delegates to win the nomination; Republican candidates need 1,144. Across the state of Iowa, registered voters gathered to cast their vote for their preferred party primary candidate. Yet the rules for the caucuses are far from straightforward, as are the rules for counting of votes and assignment of delegates.