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Kerry Vs. Bush: Should Americans even bother voting?

Alex D. from TRIBE on Utility Room
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TRIBE Member
I don't think Americans should bother voting because then TV networks would have nothing to cover on election night and we could all sit back and enjoy a new episode of Everybody Loves Raymond.

Boss Hog

TRIBE Member
Helping America Vote?
by Matthew Pascarella
Friday, October 24, 2003

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” —Sec. 1, 15th Amendment

Despite differences in ethos and political ideology, we can agree that the most fundamental and essential aspect of the democratic process is one’s right to vote.

The 2000 Presidential election debacle brought to light massive problems with the way that Americans vote. Due to mechanical problems with voting machines, and partisan fighting, many voters were left completely disenfranchised. In response to public outcry, Congress adopted the “Help America Vote Act” (HAVA) in 2002. This act, originally designed to safeguard voter rights, in fact, contains flaws so major that it has the opposite effect; the Act puts one of our most basic rights in peril.

Conflict of Interest
One of the first mandates in HAVA is that older, ‘punch card’ voting systems be replaced with computerized voting machines. These machines are manufactured by private companies, raising the potential for foul play due to special interests. It would seem appropriate for companies manufacturing voting machines to remain neutral and unbiased, but most voting machine companies are financially involved in political campaigns and many active and former politicians are employed by these companies. Here are just a handful of examples:

• In 2000, 5 of the 12 directors of Diebold, a leading voting machine manufacturer, made donations totaling $94,750 to predominately Republican politicians;

• Former Florida Secretary of State Sandra Mortham (R) and Former State Election Supervisor of California Lou Dedier (R) both have ties to Election Systems and Software (ES&S), one of our nation’s leading voting machine manufacturers and tabulators. Sandra Mortham was a lobbyist for ES&S and the Florida Association of Counties during the same time period. The Florida Association of Counties made $300,000 in commissions from the sale of ES&S’s voting machines;

• In Georgia’s most recent election, William Wingate, a lobbyist for ES&S, contributed $7,000 to Gov. Roy Barnes (D), $1,000 to Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor (D), and $500 to Secretary of State Cathy Cox (D);

• Michael McCarthy is the Chairman of the McCarthy Group, of which ES&S is a subsidiary. According to Federal Elections Commission (FEC) filings, McCarthy is also the Primary Campaign Treasurer for Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, who (according to FEC filings) is also financially tied to the McCarthy Group by substantial investments (valued between one and five million dollars). According to officials at Nebraska’s Election Administration, ES&S machines tallied around 85 percent of votes cast in Hagel’s 1996 and 2002 senatorial races.

Occasionally, politicians have used their ties to voting machine companies for fraud and illegal activities:

• Former Louisiana State Elections Official Jerry Fowler (D), is currently serving five years in prison for charges related to taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from voting machine scandals.

• Bill McCuen (D), former Arkansas Secretary of State, pled guilty to felony charges that he took bribes, evaded taxes, and accepted kickbacks. Part of the case involved Business Records Corp. (now merged with ES&S) for recording corporate and voter registration records.

Software Imperfections
Perhaps the biggest danger to the voter rights of Americans lies in the software used in voting machines, which is proprietary and cannot be tested by outside parties. A lack of independent testing allows the security flaws of the software to stand uncorrected, and potentially allows for manipulation of election outcomes. Computer scientists assessing the software of the leading voting machine manufacturer Diebold found that, “Anyone in the country—from a teenager on up—could produce these smart cards that could allow someone to vote as many times as they like” (New York Times, July 24, 2003).

Despite the software errors and other significant problems with computerized voting machines in the 2000 election, HAVA fails to provide any type of audit mechanism.

Many software professionals and voting experts have called for a provision for paper printouts of each ballot cast in order to verify the accuracy of voting machines, however, voting machine companies are reluctant to introduce such a measure. To ensure the legitimacy of the voting procedure, there is vital need for an audit trail: In Texas in 2002, Comal County’s election supervisor found that polling and election returns produced dramatically different results. It was discovered that a faulty chip in one machine’s optical reader had recorded votes incorrectly. The chip was replaced; a new electronic tabulation run and two recounts of paper printouts were performed. The election results had to be reversed.

Who is Managing the Voter Rolls?
The new HAVA requirements also fail to ensure fair elections by requiring that the task of managing voter rolls be centralized, and put under the control of notoriously partisan Secretaries of State.

While the mainstream media covered the 2000 Florida recount, they relaxed their investigative spirit (if such a spirit still exists in modern journalism) and tried to turn a complex story into something simple: ‘hanging chads’ and ‘stupid Floridians.’ Here is what they failed to tell you:

In 2000, the Florida Secretary of State was Katherine Harris (appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush), who was also the chairwoman of the “Bush for President” campaign in that state. In order to remove convicted felons (who are ineligible to vote in that state) from their voter rolls, Florida paid the private company Database Technologies (DBT/Choicepoint) $1 million for a list of names matching those of felons across the U.S. Even though there were many obvious flaws in the matching criteria (including conviction dates as far in the future as 2007, and names barely approximating those of actual felons), neither the state nor the private contractor attempted to verify the accuracy of the list. According to a study by Harvard University, 95 percent of the people denied their right to vote by the purge were not felons, and therefore legal voters. About 54 percent of those purged were African Americans (an overwhelmingly Democratic group in Florida). This led researchers to conclude that Al Gore lost at least 22,000 votes through the purge. The election in Florida was decided by a margin of 537.

What You Can Do
This system should not be spread nationwide as HAVA requires, unless critical loopholes in the legislation are closed by way of a stringent system of checks and balances.

In order to correct the inconsistencies in the Help America Vote Act, we urge you to join us in endorsing the following petition by Martin Luther King III, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and Greg Palast, BBC journalist and author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Already, over 48,000 people have signed the petition.


Boss Hog

TRIBE Member
any my answer is that yes, they should vote, even if it's worthless and even if it represents any chance it will at least get rid of Bush.
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TRIBE Member
They should vote for the simple reason that if Bush does win and something happens to him, Dick Cheney will become president. The only thing worse than Bush would be Cheney! Nonetheless, like Clinton, Kerry would have the decency to cover the road to hell with rose petals. Then again, it's like voting for the devil you know and the devil you don't know: it doesn't matter because you're still voting for the devil.


TRIBE Member
I'm comfortable with e-voting provided it is delivered through software that is open-source and adheres to the strict standards that, ironically, government institutions like NIST sets forth.


TRIBE Member
Hopefully (and probably) Kerry will roll back some of the tax-cuts, lower defence spending, de-emphasize "faith-based" initiatives, appoint more liberals to the bench, and not piss off so much of the world. So yeah, Americans should vote.
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Cheer Bear

TRIBE Member
Apparently Kerry had an AFFAIR *gasp* a politician cheating on his wife? SAY IT AIN'T SO!

This could be the end for him. ;) Damn blowjobs, always making things difficult.


TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Cheer Bear
Apparently Kerry had an AFFAIR *gasp* a politician cheating on his wife?
I guess this sort of thing was bound to "ketchup" with him eventually. :)


TRIBE Member
That response was also quite humerous, you're on a roll today AdRiaN.

Boss Hog

TRIBE Member
State: Touchscreen ballots don't have to be recounted


Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Department of State has notified elections supervisors that touchscreen ballots don't have to be included during manual recounts because there is no question about how voters intended to vote.

While touchscreen ballot images can be printed, there is no need and elections supervisors aren't authorized to do so, Division of Elections Director Ed Kast wrote in a letter to Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Kurt Browning.

Florida law requires a manual recount of overvotes where too many candidates were chosen, and undervotes where no candidate was chosen in elections where the margin of victory is one-quarter of one percent of the vote.

But because the law states that the purpose of a recount is to determine whether there was a "clear indication on the ballot that the voter has made a definite choice," there is no need to review touchscreen ballots, Ed Kast, director of the Division of Elections.

It is impossible to vote for too many candidates on a touchscreen ballot, and Kast said a "review of undervotes cannot result in a determination of voter intent as required by" Florida law.

Browning asked for the opinion after a Broward County Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff won a seat in the state House by 12 votes, a margin that triggered an automatic recount.

He said the election raised the question of whether paper images needed to be produced for the 134 undervotes in that race. He also said he supports Kast's opinion.

"There are no ballots to count, there are no ballots to recount," Browning said.

The opinion was issued the day after a Palm Beach County judge threw out a lawsuit filed by Democratic U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler that sought to require electronic voting machines produce a paper record of ballots cast. Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Graham has filed legislation that would require a paper record of touchscreen ballots.

And the Florida Democratic Party called for paper records for electronic ballots during their convention last November.

Secretary of State Glenda Hood said there are no certified methods of printing records of touchscreen votes, but she stressed that the machines are reliable and accurate and can't be tampered.

"We're working very hard to educate the voters, to build the comfort level and to get rid of some of the myths out there," Hood said. "I think these things are raised for political purposes and distractions. Any effort to undermine that public confidence is a tactic that is wrong and I believe it weakens our democracy by causing voters to doubt if their vote has been counted."

Hood said she would not object to paper records being created if a machine were developed, tested and was able to pass the state certification process, but she said it's highly unlikely that would happen before the November presidential election.

"Technology is going to continue to develop and if we can find ways to improve Florida's elections and process with new equipment, then we're going to do that," she said.


Vote Quimby

TRIBE Member
Holy fuck. How hard is it to mark an X on a ballot? Then count said ballot?

Between these electronic voting methods, all the gerrymandering, and "Electoral College", the US has one fucked up election system.
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TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Vote Quimby
the US has one fucked up election system.

You have no idea..
You may wnat to add the fact that a company charged with at least 5 felonies is in charge of a portion of the voting system.

Vote Quimby

TRIBE Member
I've read numerous stories about the redistricting that goes on.

In Texas there was a group of Democrats who kept fleeing the state to prevent the Republican controlled house in Texas from redrawing riding lines.

Course the Democrats are just as bad.

People must be so confused. Never knowing what district they are in from one election to the next.


TRIBE Member
Genealogists call Bush and Kerry kin

Big Isle researchers claim the president and his top opponent are distant cousins
By Matt Sedensky
Associated Press

Democratic presidential candidates are constantly being compared with the current commander in chief. Now, two Hawaii genealogy buffs say they have proof President Bush and the current Democratic front-runner share similarities thicker than water.

Bruce and Kristine Harrison, publishers of historical databases, traced back the family histories of Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry.

The result? They're cousins.

Well, 16th cousins, three times removed, to be exact. But cousins, nonetheless.

Truth be told, one might find such distant family ties between Bush and any of the four other major Democratic candidates.

The link between the president and the Rev. Al Sharpton might date back a bit further, Bruce Harrison said, but tracing ancestries helps illuminate a greater message on human interconnectedness, if not one on the centrification of the nation's politics.

"I believe everybody on the planet is related if you go back far enough," said Harrison, 51, whose Millisecond Publishing in Waimea on the Big Island puts out a line of ancestral history CDs. He and his wife have spent the last eight years compiling information from hundreds of genealogical books and periodicals. "We're setting the stage for others to explore their curiosity," he said.

Harrison says the search through family trees also turned up other big-name ancestors of Kerry and Bush. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is the president's ninth cousin, twice removed, while Kerry can count Johnny Appleseed as his sixth cousin, six times removed. Both the president and the Massachusetts senator can claim ties to figures ranging from Charlemagne to Walt Disney to Marilyn Monroe, Harrison said.

For an average user of the Family Forest software, it could be more difficult to find such well-known links, but Harrison says he believes everyone can find some ancestral information in the database.

As for the political adversaries' kinship, the only reunion in store seems to be a debate, should Kerry win his party's nomination. A Bush campaign spokeswoman said she had no comment on the issue. A message left with Kerry's spokesman was not returned.

The Honolulu County Genealogical Society's Mary Ann Bolton said she was not too impressed with those who troll family trees looking for star-studded connections.

"I don't really put too much into that," she said. "That's just bragging rights."

Harrison said his motivation in finding the link wasn't political, nor was it purely curiosity. Since publicizing the Bush-Kerry relation, the number of daily visits to his Web site has more than tripled.
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