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It's all relative, Or: It better be a good party
PULSE (Web Log)   27 August 2004

The voting machine controversy continues. David Corn, an editor at The Nation, reported yesterday that in addition to the party snacks so thoughtfully provided by their sponsors, those trusted gatekeepers of the Election Center are eating their words.

The Code of Ethics on the group's website asserts:

"It is our sacred honor to protect and promote a public trust and confidence by our conduct of accurate and fair elections. As the public's guardians of freedom within a democratic society, we are responsible for the integrity of the process."

Corn questions whether their national conference should allow "the leading manufacturers of electronic voting machines [to] be wining and dining state and local officials responsible for conducting elections."

The conference the Election Center is holding this week in Washington D.C. provides training for election officials from across the nation.

The program for the conference notes that the welcoming reception on August 26 was sponsored by Diebold Election Systems. Likewise, the "Dinner Cruise on the Potomac and Monuments by Night Tour" to be held tonight will be cosponsored by Sequoia Voting Systems, while the "Graduation Luncheon and Awards Ceremony" to be held on the last day of the conference will be sponsored by Election Systems and Software.

Each of these companies has donated funding to the Election Center, reports Linda K. Harris in an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Each of these companies also manufactures electronic voting machines.

Diebold's Chief Executive, Walden O'Dell, is publicly recognized as an active supporter of the Bush campaign. "To think that Diebold is somehow tainted because they have a couple folks on their board who support the president is just unfair," Ohio GOP spokesman Jason Mauk is quoted as protesting in Julie Carr Smyth's piece for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Corn offers a variety of recent allegations against all three companies which include fraud, voter machine malfunctions, lying and misconduct. What Corn considers most noteworthy is the fact that none of these companies will supply information about their systems, leaving critics wary of potential security problems. Corn laments:

"By accepting support from Diebold, Sequoia, and ES&S, these elections officials do little to encourage confidence in their judgment and impartiality. A cynic would not be unjustified to ask, if they cannot be trusted to make this call, how can they be trusted to count the votes?"

It's hardly surprising that after last election's ballot fiasco in Florida, many Americans are wary of the potential for another miscount in the upcoming election, particularly when it's still easier to get a receipt for anything we purchase than it is a paper trail for electronic voting machines.

The non partisan People for the American Way website provides plenty of opportunities to make sure this year's election is decided by a correct count of votes.

—Michaele Shapiro

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