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Using technology to undermine the ballot box

By Frank Salvato
web posted January 1, 2007

It's the same old tired song and dance. If a Democrat loses on Election Day there simply must have been something sinister afoot. From hanging chads to confusing ballot designs and now improperly programmed touch-screen voting machines, the looming shadow of "voter disenfranchisement" – a phrase made popular by professional victim Jesse Jackson during the 2000 presidential election recount – is always proclaimed when Democrats don't receive a majority of the vote.

The most recent case of "election victory envy" is taking place in Florida's 13th Congressional District. There, Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings completed for the House seat vacated by Katherine Harris. Buchanan defeated Jennings by 369 votes in a race that saw 18,400 undervotes cast.

While the State of Florida has tested the machines used and certified Buchanan as the winner, Jennings' has filed a "Note of Contest" with the US House of Representatives asking the congressional chamber to void the election. Her complaint asks the House to do one of two things; void the November 7, 2006 results making way for a new election or give the seat to Jennings outright. She has also filed a lawsuit in Florida – along with 11 voters from Sarasota County – requesting access to computer codes used to program the machines used on Election Day, machines her campaign contends were purposely "rigged" to affect the outcome of the election.

Now comes news that Speaker of the House-Elect Nancy Pelosi is entertaining the notion of not seating Congressman-Elect Buchanan – the certified winner – when the 110th Congress is sworn in, a move encouraged by Democratic National Committee Chairman, Howard Dean. "The bottom line here is that nothing's off the table," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said.

While I understand the desperation the Jennings campaign must be feeling in their attempt to snatch victory from the clenched jaws of defeat, their vicious indignation for the electoral process and their complete disregard for the sanctity of the "ballot box" should alarm each and every American voter.

If, for just a moment, we take Ms. Jennings' complaint at face value, that programming code for the touch-screen voting machines in Sarasota County's 13th Congressional District were somehow manipulated, that would mean that more than a few people would have been complicit in the chicanery.

For this conspiracy to have been orchestrated it would have had to incorporate:

▪ Someone to write the code;

▪ Someone to facilitate the machines for the code's installation;

▪ Someone to test the machines to make sure the "rigged code" generated the desired false results;

▪ Someone to coordinate the dissemination of the machines in strategically selected and pre-determined locations throughout Sarasota County's 13th Congressional District where there was sure to be a predominantly Democratic turnout;

▪ Complete sets of complicit election judges for each polling place who would certify the polling place results;

▪ Someone to collect the "rigged" machines after the polls closed;

▪ Someone to uninstall the "rigged code" before any post-election testing was done on the "rigged" machines;

▪ And someone to reinstall the correct code, test the machines to make sure they worked properly and secure the machine seals prior to anyone finding out that anything malicious had taken place.

Given the fact that most Americans couldn't keep a secret to save the country (one need only look at the plethora of intelligence leaks that end up on The New York Times' front page to validate the point) it would be astounding and quite unbelievable that so many people could remain so tight-lipped about something so incredibly explosive. In fact, the odds are monumentally stacked against it.

More likely than this scenario is the idea that Christine Jennings lost a very tight election during an overall election cycle that saw very close contests in every state across the nation. While the number of undervotes was abnormal, to say the least, in an election that saw the Republicans lose rather than the Democrats win, it is entirely probably that voters showed their disgust with their elected officials at the ballot box by not voting for either of the candidates presented, irresponsible but probable.

Even more irresponsible is the self-important venture on which the Jennings campaign has embarked. Placing the will of a candidate or the will of a political party above the sanctity of the ballot box is reprehensible. It exemplifies the evils associated with the current "politics before government" attitude that permeates the elitist society of America's politicos today.

That many, if not most, of those who seek political office today lust for political power so badly they would be content to believe cockamamie conspiracy theories, conspiracy theories that would need the coordination of NASA, the NSA and the CIA combined, is telling of the quality of stewardship We the People provide our Constitutional Republic.

While the court concerns itself with Christine Jennings and her self-absorbed quest for power, we should all be quite alarmed that the incoming Speaker of the House would so easily cast aside her oath to uphold the Constitution and its most basic right – the right of citizens to select their governmental representatives.

By entertaining the notion of adding legitimacy to Jennings' conspiracy theory Nancy Pelosi proves beyond a looming shadow of a conspiracy theorist's doubt that she is first and foremost a political animal and then, maybe…just maybe, a public servant.

"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it."
– John Adams, 1776 ESR

Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. He recently partnered in producing the first-ever symposium on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism in Washington, DC. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. He can be contacted at oped@newmediajournal.us.


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