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I said back at the start of the new year that Clinton could not beat the Republicans in November. CNN's poll data from a few days ago supports what I said back then.

After the Potomac primaries, Obama is now the front runner, with 1,215 delegates to Clinton's 1,190.

Now if Huckabee will just give it up (and he won't for a while, I don't think), we can start speculating about vice presidential options.

Comments

mumpish
Feb. 16th, 2008 01:58 pm (UTC)
It's interesting that you bring up the Diebold machines, because part of the narrative in 2000 was about how paper ballots were antiquated technology, but that poor, Democrat-rich precincts couldn't afford to upgrade to new-fangled electronic machines that would have prevented all this uncertainty.

The 2004 Ohio controversy was also about (some of the last remaining) punch card systems. Now that they've been essentially replaced, the debate has shifted to the fact that (gasp) dishonest people can manipulate these machines, as though that were some kind of a surprise.

Let me state upfront that I'm not opposed to the idea that we legislate that electronic voting machines generate a paper ballot that is then reviewed by the voter before being placed in a traditional ballot box. Voting is too important to be subjected to the kinds of cost-saving measures that made the electronic systems attractive to precincts in the first place. But it's a mistake to think that that system would preclude fraud, either. How does that system protect against old-fashioned, pre-digital-age fraud? Say an audit reveals that electronic and paper counts don't match. So which number is correct? Did a hacker game the electronic boxes, or did some latter-day Joe Kennedy stuff the box? The answer, always, will be 'whichever answer benefits MY candidate.'

That's what really worries me. Florida 2000 wasn't about evil Republicans stealing elections. It wasn't about impoverished precincts forced to use antiquated technology that, by the way, had been used by the most wealthy and privileged Americans to elect every president from Hoover to Clinton. What Florida was about was a fundamental sea change in how elections are viewed in America.

What changed in 2000 was that it suddenly became kosher to throw every election in doubt merely because corruption is theoretically possible. If you can't win the election on the merits, and you weren't corrupt enough to steal it outright, then it should be standard operating procedure to descend on every marginal precinct and point out every flaw or potential flaw in the systems in use there, as though they were sinister evidence of a conspiracy, rather than, you know, well understood parts of the election process which were open and available for members of the public and both major parties to inspect well in advance. If you can't win, taint the winner with the suggestion of corruption. That's a fundamentally dangerous shift in our thinking about elections.

Electronic machines are a gold mine for those who encourage this kind of thinking. Old-fashioned systems require some kind of mechanical tom-foolery that is easily understood - I steal a ballot box, or I fill out a bunch of fake ballots, or just simply fill out the count sheets wrong. Electronic machines are subject to scamming that for most of the electorate is indistinguishable from magic; not only can any hacker change the counts for the box he's voting at, he can probably hack into the traffic grid and make all the lights in Democratic precincts red so voters can't reach the polls.

As I said above, I'm not opposed to giving electronic machines a paper trail. I just reject the notion that most people who care deeply about this issue really care about accountability - I think they're trying to reduce accountability because it suits their purposes. In support of that view, I only have to observe that many of the same people so worked up about paper trails for voting machines want no paper trail of any kind for voters. One of the simplest guards against fraud that we could do is mandate photo IDs at polling places and validate voter registration rolls for eligibility. People who are opposed to this are not being serious about accountability in elections.

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