Tuesday, December 27, 2011

As The Cookie Crumbles: Fully Rigged

Unca Joe Stalin is reputed to have remarked that "Who votes doesn't matter; what matters is who COUNTS...votes."

There has been pretty good evidence gathered by the likes of the USer investigative journalist, Greg Palast, who writes for the Guardian in London, and a slew of indefatigable voters (BradBlog, et al) that USer elections have for some time been prey to, and have not infrequently been determined by election fraud.

Not voter fraud; not the efforts of single individuals to vote more than once. But the kind of manipulation which was probably determinative in the Presidential elections of 200 and 2004; but there is no reason in principle that it couldn't have happened at any time since votes have been electronically cast and/or counted...

Voting machines themselves have been so often so easily hacked that many States have gone back to paper ballots. I work as an election judge, and I've seen the precautions which now surround ballot security. There still remains that week link, to which Unca Joe alluded: the count.

In USer elections, overwhelmingly, ballots are TABULATED (i.e., "counted") by machines which read cards inscribed with votes at the voting machine. But the cards, the tabulators, and the soft-ware which directs the operatiuon of the tabulator are all PRIVATE PROPERTY, belonging to corpoRats which have vested interests in the outcomes of the processes they control, including the "proprietary" software which is illegible to ANYONE outside the company hierarchy.

But tainted machinery isn't the only way our elections are stolen.

The system is rigged in MANY ways, most of which are no more amenable to ready solution that those problems posed by the tabulators. But it's done by the same corpoRat interests. These typically begin long before the actual election season even begins:
First, since campaign fundraising success is considered a crucial metric of 'electability,' candidates must make themselves acceptable to corporate interests which account for more than 60% of all campaign contributions.

Next, once the candidate's acceptability is vetted, corpoRat interests impose restrictions on candidate access to the media and to participation in rituals like debates where name recognition is created...

Then, of course, Corporate media conduct and report exit polling, which can and probably has altered results, by creating a kind of media-induced voter suppression effect, inducing some voters to NOT venture to the polls. This happened, significantly, in the 1980 Presidential "contest."

And now, of course, there are the complications of corporate personhood and the legal determination that money equals speech, along with removal of restrictions on corporate campaign financing and lobbying freeing billions to buy our elected representatives.

Other interventions are more structurally intrusive. I've already discussed the manipulation of electoral structures and mechanisms. There is also the process called gerrymanering," the partisan redistricting, which re-draws electoral district maps that favor a particular party every decade. Recently there have been flurries of efforts in many States to manipulate boter ID laws that disenfranchise young, poor and minority voters, too.

In Florida, in 2000, and in (mostly mostly Democratic precincts) there were countless examples of fraudulent purging of voter rolls, including "caging" - removing a voter from the rolls or discarding their vote based on the return of direct mail to their listed address, a practice found to be used fraudulently and with racial bias, making it illegal under the Voting Rights Act. And of course, the disenfranchisement of felons, many poor, black or Hispanic, and convicted on drug offenses.

So, as the electoral season rolls inexorably upon us, those are the forces at work to disturb you and disrupt your vote, hippies.

Remember: Voting really IS the least you can do...We'll count 'em up when I see you at the beach.

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