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Voting goes to the elephants

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With the announcement Tuesday by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to resume the recall election as scheduled, the issue of providing electronic voting machines to all of California has been shelved.

However, phasing out punch card ballots is inevitable. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 was passed in the name of providing the necessary money to replace outdated punch card and lever voting machines with electronic machines as soon as possible.

Originally, the goal was to implement the new machines in the 2004 presidential primary. But lack of funding and, more importantly, security questions have impended progress.

In a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University’s Information Security Institute, concerns were voiced.

“Voters can trivially cast multiple ballots with no built-in traceability, administrative functions can be performed by regular voters, and the threats posed by insiders such as poll workers, software developers and even janitors, is even greater.”

Hackers are also a concern. On numerous occasions, hackers throughout the world have been able to worm their way into cyberspace and disrupt millions of computers. What is to stop them from doing the same to the voting machines? The electronic machines are, in essence, computers.

There is also the problem with the touch-screen computers that no backup paper ballot is provided. If the system is corrupted in any way, there will be no concrete paper ballot to which officials can turn. Are they going to call every registered voter and ask how they voted or are they going to re-do the vote, wasting ridiculous amounts of everyone’s time.

If all these general concerns are not enough, we now have the added concern of the higher-ups in Diebold, Inc., the company chosen by Ohio to provide their machines.

Walden O’Dell, the chief executive for Diebold, which is based in North Canton, Ohio, is an adamant supporter of the Republican Party. He is a member of the “Pioneers and Rangers,” an elite group of six-figure fundraisers for President George W. Bush’s campaign.

In an invitation to a Republican fundraiser held at his home, O’Dell said he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes for the president next year.”

The irony is overwhelming. As chief executive of a company that has been chosen to provide electronic voting machines for an entire state and possibly an entire country-machines for which a laundry list of obvious security concerns have been expressed, machines in which the fate of democracy rests – O’Dell has promised he will deliver Ohio to President Bush.

O’Dell has stated that his comment had no connection to the voting machines and his company’s position. And, indeed, as an American, O’Dell is free to endorse whom he wants and say what he wants. But O’Dell’s comments have made many second guess placing the fate of the United States and her political functions in the hands of a man who is so strongly biased.

Although it is very possible that when the voting machines are created, the myriad of security concerns are sufficiently remedied, but it is just as possible for them to be corrupted.

Anyone from hackers, poll workers, voters or any number of Diebold employees, including janitors all the way up to executives like O’Dell, could have the opportunity to manipulate the vote.

With the implementation of the new electronic voting machine, corruption is nigh.

The possibility is too prevalent to ignore. Are we ready to implicitly entrust the future of our nation to computers and the company who builds them, especially when the chief executive of the company is cheering for one side with such alacrity?

Think about it. The future of our country hangs in the balance.

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