Here’s a sign that the NYTimes is waking up to the grave danger of computerized voting, although they have a ways to go.
The problem isn’t any lack of “robust competition.” How could it be? First of all, there really never was much “competition” in the e-vote/e-vote-counting business–and there really wasn’t any when, essentially, Diebold and ES&S divided up the territory, since those two juggernauts were Siamese twins. They were originally one company, founded by the Christinist brothers Bob and Todd Urosevich (who still wield corporate power today).
Moreover–and more important–elections are a vital civic exercise, not an economic matter that requires a market-based solution. We rule ourselves (or ought to) as voters, not consumers. The problem with ES&S, therefore, is surely not that that colossus hogs “the market,” although it is indeed grotesque, and dangerous, to have one private company run our national elections.
The problem, rather, is that America’s elections have been privatized, whether it’s one company or four, or six, that runs the show–and, indeed, “a show” is all it is, because that company, and all its peers, deploy a wholly non-transparent, easily manipulated electronic system, which makes it quite impossible for anyone to tell if the results of our elections are legitimate or not. (Those companies, moreover, are not honest brokers
but intensely partisan concerns, owned and managed by right-wing Republicans.)
What we need, then, isn’t “robust competition” in the field of electronic voting and vote-counting. What we need is to BAN SUCH VOTING NATIONWIDE, IN FAVOR OF A NATIONAL RETURN TO PAPER BALLOTS, WHICH MUST BE HAND-COUNTED. We also need to BAN PRIVATE COMPANIES FROM ALL PARTICIPATION IN OUR VOTING PROCESS.
I hope I’ve made myself clear. The time, in short, has come to repeal the disastrous (and frighteningly misnamed) Help America Vote ACT (HAVA), and start anew.
Tell the Times, in 150 words or less: Letters@nytimes.com.
The Voters Will Pay
It was bad news for the voting public when Election Systems and Software, the nation’s largest voting machine company, announced last fall that it was acquiring the elections division of Diebold, the nation’s second-largest voting machine company.