Saturday, October 25, 2008
Other People's Blog Ideas

I got a request from my friend Diana to use this blog to direct some attention towards a recent interview done with Stephen Spoonamore, a Republican computer fraud expert and vote-fraud whistleblower. And I'm quite happy to oblige. I think we can assume that at least two or three more people will hear about this now. :)

Here's a link to Mark Crispin Miller's page on the subject, which links to the entire interview in ten parts. Of if you'd prefer a more succinct run-down on the issue, here's an interview with Miller in which he hits the main points.

Personally, I have mixed feelings on the theory. On the one hand, it's obvious that electronic voting machines are waaaay too easily tampered with, and I don't really doubt that various interested parties have probably used those vulnerabilities to their advantage. And obviously if our ability to vote is in any way compromised, then our entire political system is bankrupt. This is a crucial issue that arguably transcends every other issue, in as much as if we can't rely on our votes, then all other issues become moot for us as voters. So I think this is something that absolutely has to be addressed, and so I'm always interested in what knowledgeable people have to say on the matter. And Spoonamore certainly seems like a very knowledgeable party.

On the other hand, while I wouldn't be remotely surprised to learn that some tampering has been going on, and maybe even enough to make the difference in certain crucial elections, I have a little trouble believing that it could be so widely used that a serious challenge could be overcome through election fraud alone. If McCain et al. are planning to steal the 2008 election, why do they so convincingly act like a campaign that's about to lose? Do we really believe that the Obama campaign doesn't understand the threat, however large or small it might be, and hasn't considered how to counter it?

As it currently stands McCain has to win at least nine battleground states -- Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada -- to have a chance of winning the election. And that means nine states that he HAS to win, every single one of them, with no losses among them. If it were one or two states, I'd be quite worried; but at nine, or more, it seems implausible to cheat his way to victory, even with a few electronic aces tucked in his pockets.

Again, I don't doubt that shenanigans are afoot. There have already been instances of irregularities in a few states, and weird goings-on in others. And it's not just electronic voting that's an issue -- mass purges of voter rolls, interference at polling places, and disinformation directed at specific demographic groups make it fairly obvious that there are some very corrupt, dirty games being played. You see stuff like this, and you know that our electoral system, already imperfect, is being badly damaged. Assuming Obama wins, I really hope that among the big priorities of his first term will be to address the widespread tactics being used to undermine our elections. This shit has to stop.

But I just can't bring myself to believe that even cheating is going to deliver this one for McCain. I could be wrong, and in a few weeks we'll know for sure. But at this point even McCain is acting like he doesn't buy it.

For whatever it's worth, it seems to me that Oregon's voting system is as good as it can realistically be. I got my ballot in the mail about a week ago, and spent an hour or so that evening going over all the measures and local/regional candidates with my laptop, filling in all the appropriate ovals on my nice paper ballot. Then I took it to the library and dropped it off (I could've mailed it in, but it seemed like a waste of stamps), and that was that. It was easy, convenient, verifiable, secure, etc., and judging by Oregon's election turnout numbers, it definitely encourages participation. I don't doubt that there are ways to game any system, this one included, and I've heard occasional mutterings about ways in which Oregon's system could be compromised. But that will be true of any system that's designed to be accessed by millions of people, and the benefits obviously outweigh the drawbacks.

It seems like it must be time to establish a more coherent means of voting, and a paper trail would be so simple and would do so much to alleviate the issues involved in electronic voting. Just give me a fucking receipt for my vote, you know? In addition, it's painfully obvious that private enterprise has absolutely no place in any election. No private firm -- right-leaning, left-leaning, for-profit, non-profit, faith-based or secular -- should be handling elections. I absolutely agree that we've got a big problem, and one that should be easily fixed. So for that reason alone, if you're interested, the Spoonamore interview is interesting stuff.

Totally unrelated, but I liked it a lot, and I hope Greensmile will forgive me for stealing his entire post -- it's just that it was so short. :)

If there is not at least one person to whom you would literally never lie, one person to whom you fiercely and at any cost, present your truest self in every moment and circumstance, then your life is shabby, a string of compromised amusements, a toying with the devil as he grooms you for his version of eternity.

I have no such person, so I feel like a failure now. :) However, I also think it's a beautiful sentiment and quite true, and when I read it earlier today I wanted to tack it up on my wall. I've thought I might've found that person a few times, but it always turned out that I was wrong. I think this is probably the closest I've ever found to my definition of real love; it's the ideal to which I have always been drawn. It's why I've learned to mistrust being "in love" -- being in love is the most gratifying part of being alive, but by definition you're never really, honestly yourself when you're in love. It's impossible. Being in love with someone is by its nature a delusion, a projection of perfection onto an imperfect human being. There's no such thing as love at first sight. Capital-L Love, real love, worthwhile love, is only possible after all that ends and much time has passed, when you can no longer hide behind the veil of perfection that someone else drapes over you; when you're exposed as the dysfunctional, ugly, fucked-up person you are and accepted anyway, and can in turn accept the dysfunctional, ugly, fucked-up-ness of someone else. It takes years to find, or decades, a lifetime. And I haven't even begun yet.
11:45 PM ::
Amy :: permalink