Letters

"You thought the 2000 election dragged on? The 2004 election will be a never-ending nightmare." Readers respond to Farhad Manjoo's "Will the Election Be Hacked?"


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Salon Staff
February 13, 2004 1:30AM (UTC)

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What does Farhad Manjoo mean by "If there's an upset in a close presidential race..."? If? How would a close presidential race not be seen as an upset by at least half the population, no matter who won, when so many of the votes were subject to hackers' flimflammery?

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And now I know why Congress is so reluctant to investigate the new technology properly. The exposure of chicanery or even simple stupidity by Diebold could arguably delegitimize the 2002 Georgia election and, by extension, the Republican domination of the Senate. Can't let the truth impede destiny.

-- Jay Winer

Farhad Manjoo's piece on the seemingly inevitable election fraud made possible with computer voting machines was chilling, but I was a little surprised at how quickly he discounted the idea of paper ballots. Here in Canada we used them as recently as the last federal election, and as a little research would have shown him, we managed to count the ballots quickly and accurately, despite his contention that "[p]aper ballots are tricky to count accurately by machine, are almost impossible and time-consuming to count by hand, and, of course, they can easily be tampered with." It may not be a perfect system -- there isn't one -- but it beats hand-wringing over nonexistent paper trails and endless arguments about hanging chads.

As for his concerns about accessibility to the blind, a paper ballot can be placed in a plastic or metal frame marked in Braille with the names and political affiliations of the candidates.

I'm a computer programmer but even I can see that sometimes the lowest-tech alternative is the best one.

-- Robert Matthews

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I am in information technology and I can tell you there is absolutely no way I will cast an electronic vote. I'll request an absentee ballot or demand a paper ballot. I do not trust electronic voting machines and I think the Republicans will attempt to steal this election, as they did the 2000 election, by manipulating votes. It chilled me to the bone when Bush answered Tim Russert, "I don't intend to lose." I think Bush's buddies will rig the voting machines for him and I want to know what we can do to prevent it!

-- Marilyn James

When Mr. Manjoo claims that Bev Harris is "singularly responsible for almost every bit of attention recently paid to electronic voting machines," he does a disservice to the long-standing efforts of Dr. Rebecca Mercuri, who has championed the cause of reliable and accountable electronic voting for well over a decade and is both a pioneer and expert in the field.

-- Trey Goesh

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I've been a supporter of Howard Dean for some time now and at one time went out to the official blog almost daily to read some of what was posted there.

Last fall for several months a "troll" who was obviously pro-Bush (a click on his name took you to the Bush for President Web site) posted messages that said we could do all we might but we would never defeat Bush because "we own the voting machines." He posted this many times and other bloggers ignored him because the usual rule regarding trolls is, "Ignore trolls and they will go away."

I was struck by this, however, and by the fact he didn't post this just once but over and over again. Now, you might say that no one who had any information on rigged elections would do such a thing, but I've found that people often do things that at first glance no one thinks they would. There are always people who like to brag.

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I finally sent e-mails to not just the Dean campaign but to senators and representatives telling them about this.

Whether it did any good or not, I don't know, but the "troll" stopped posting his taunts. I don't know whether he has ever returned, but if he has I haven't seen him.

Apparently, there are at least a few people out there who do believe that voting machines can be used to rig an election and like to tease the opposition with the idea. Whether or not all they will do is tease I don't know.

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-- Fran Spragens

Re: Diebold voting machine flaws.

A story in the Boston Globe gave some examples posted at MIT. One Diebold internal e-mail talked about a test where one vote counted as 15, while other votes went uncounted. Obviously, hackers can make the machines do whatever they like: count all Republican votes twice, for instance. Or exclude an entire city block.

Anyone with sense will refuse to vote on them. Which means what happens at the polling station? They give you a paper ballot? Tell you, too bad? Turn you away?

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You thought the 2000 election dragged on? The 2004 election will be a never-ending nightmare.

-- Clayton Emery


Salon Staff

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