Privatizing Our Vote: The Ultimate Crime

Search form

Privatizing Our Vote: The Ultimate Crime

Privatizing Our Vote: The Ultimate Crime
Mon, 11/11/2013 - by Thom Hartmann
This article originally appeared on The Daily Take

When the Supreme Court issued its Citizens United decision in 2010, many in the media predicted that it would usher in a new era of corporate electioneering. They were right, of course, but they only had half of the story.

You won't hear it anywhere in the mainstream media, but over the past decade or so our elected representatives have slowly but surely handed the power to decide our elections over to a handful of giant, mostly Republican-connected corporations.

And they've done so by giving them the right to count our votes.

At one time, counting votes was something done by people like you and me. It was done by volunteers, political party representatives, and government workers. If there was anything sketchy with the results, you could compare those results with exit-polls conducted by any one of the many reputable polling companies. This system worked for centuries and for good reason, too: exit polls were - and still are - the best way to detect fraud.

But something changed in America in the early 2000s. Private corporations armed with fancy new electronic voting machines - not everyday people - began counting the vote. They were helped out by President George W. Bush, who in 2002 signed the so-called "Help America Vote Act." HAVA gave billions of dollars to states all over the country so they could buy electronic voting machines from big corporations.

Supporters of electronic voting machines say they're safer and better than manual vote counting, but that's just a flat-out lie. Anyone who wants to can easily use a voting machine to swing an election.

If you don't believe me, just check out the 2004 video of Howard Dean playing around with a voting machine while he was guest hosting Tina Brown's CNBC show.

It's really that easy. In fact, according to BlackBoxVoting.org, a non-profit group dedicated to investigating problems with electronic voting, rigging an election with an electronic voting machine is so easy a chimpanzee can do it.

And if you think this all just a bunch of hand-wringing, then think again. Ever since the early 2000s, when the use of electronic voting machines really took off, things have gotten really weird.

Back in 2002, for example, polling showed popular Georgia Democrat Senator Max Cleland with a solid five point lead over his Republican challenger, Saxby Chambliss, less than a week before Election Day. But when the votes were counted using electronic voting machines made and operated by Diebold, Chambliss emerged victorious by about two points.

So what happened? Well, it might have something to do with a software patch that Diebold installed in machines in Democratic-leaning counties months before voters went to the polls.

But we'll never actually know what happened. As Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. noted in his piece on the 2002 Georgia senate race, "It is impossible to know whether the machines were rigged to alter the election in Georgia: Diebold's machines provided no paper trail, making a recount impossible."

That's the whole problem with electronic voting machines: we'll never really know. Companies like Diebold don't have to reveal their software secrets because they are protected under copyright law. And again, unlike paper ballots, you can't really see when someone messes with your touchscreen vote. It happens outside of plain sight.

Ultimately, however, the biggest problem with electronic voting machines is that they violate the core principles of our republic. Whether or not election rigging exists - and my bets are on that it does - the whole idea of privatizing the vote is a crime against our form of government.

Think of it this way: the whole purpose of government is to administer the commons, you know, things like parks, healthcare, and roads that we all need in order to survive. And in a democratic republic, voting is the most important part of the commons. That's because it's the glue that holds everything else together. It's how "We, the People," hold the managers of our commons - our elected leaders - accountable for their actions.

Handing the one thing we use to hold everyone else accountable - that is, voting, - over to an institution - a corporation - that is only accountable to its shareholders, is the ultimate crime against democracy.

On Tuesday, millions of Americans went to the polls to vote for the candidate or ballot question of their choice. But thanks to more than a decade of election privatization, we'll never know whether their votes actually counted. That's a shame.

It's time to return to paper ballots that are counted by actual human beings. Ireland and Canada tried out electronic voting machines and eventually abandoned them. It's time we followed their lead.

Privatizing the vote is just absolutely insane. It's time to scrap corporate-controlled electronic voting machines and return our elections to where they belong: in the hands of "We, the People."

Article Tabs

A few days after thousands marched on downtown Detroit last weekend, the city suspended mass water shutoffs for 15 days – leaving more than 15,000 households already disconnected.

Some 30,000 cooperatives now operate within the U.S., employing over 2 million people and paying out an estimated $75 billion annually in wages.

Stingrays and other cell surveillance tools have been used in the U.S. for years without the knowledge of the public or even defense attorneys and judges.

From the Trans-Pacific Partnership to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership to the Trade In Services Agreement, massive trade deals are being advanced in coordination with a militarized police state.

With 400,000 members and 85,000 retirees, SEIU 1199 is among the biggest unions to sign up so far for the People's Climate March in New York in September.

The Premier of the Province, Kathleen Wynn, is being given another chance to respond to growing calls from the Indigenous community to protect their Territorial Rights.

Posted 3 days 17 hours ago

Extensive research and reports commissioned by the fracking industry are treated as seminal, informative works within the U.K. government – but to date, no one outside industry vouches for its safety.

Posted 2 days 18 hours ago

It seems the people of the world are factually correct when they label the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world.

Posted 3 days 17 hours ago

This summer, the CIA's private Amazon Web Services cloud—shielded from the public behind a wall of national security—becomes operational.

Posted 2 days 18 hours ago

One week and nearly 20 actions later, the Rolling Rebellion to get corporate money out of the political process was a successful jump-off point for bigger, better, brighter and louder actions soon to come.

Posted 4 days 17 hours ago

This infographic draws attention to the intersection of housing as both a globally-recognized human right and as a commodity in a global stock market controlled by the wealthy.

The Church of England’s corporate management asserts it is neither for nor against fracking. But despite this, its legal department undertook measures to ensure they can profit if it goes ahead on its land.

$21 Trillion Hidden Offshore by Global Elite

A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary $21 trillion of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network.

Three of the five Big Oil companies released second quarter profits last week, raking in a combined $11.4 billion this quarter for a total of $31 billion on the year.

The agency has postponed rules to impose new spending limits by social welfare nonprofits, which have poured money into politics since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in 2010.

Sign Up