The vulnerability of paperless voting systems to undetectable manipulation is one of those genuine problems that unfortunately attract so many tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorists as to make them hard to pay serious attention to. So I’m grateful to WhyTuesday.org for pointing me to Edward Felten of Princeton, whose blog Freedom to Tinker has a wealth of calm and interesting analysis.
In his interview with WhyTuesday, Felten makes what seems to me a shocking revelation: under the contracts between the voting machine companies and the local election authorities — contracts paid for by federal tax dollars — the companies have the power to stop elections officials from investigating apparent irregularities. Sequoia Voting Systems threatened Union County, NJ with a lawsuit if Union County allowed Felten to examine its machines, and Union County backed off.
What are they hiding? And how long is Congress going to put up with it? The notion that a private entity with a direct interest in the outcome can prevent inquiry into whether its products work as advertised, and in so doing make it impossible to know whether the votes reported match the votes cast, is outrageous on its face. We’re playing for high stakes with Big Jule’s dice.
Footnote And of course this points up the colossal bad faith of the Republican politicians and their media and judicial lapdogs in making a fuss about the nonexistent problem of false-identity voting (in order to disenfranchise poor and elderly people who don’t have the “right” forms of identification) while not demanding even elementary standards of transparency from the voting-machine industry. If you’re worried about one person casting votes in multiple names, there’s a low-tech solution. Inky fingers, anyone? But since that doesn’t result in disenfranchisement of people likely to vote Democratic, the Republicans aren’t interested.