The U.S. Can Be the Greatest Democracy on Earth, but Right Now it is Far From It
For a country that considers itself the “greatest democracy on Earth,” the U.S. sure does run messy elections.
This year about one-third the public is voting early (something Marylanders will be voting on in a referendum on Election Day), as a result we are seeing election meltdowns in slow motion. Here is a sample of what is occurring:
- Long lines. In many states people are waiting hours – some report as long as six hours to vote in early voting. A lot of the delay has been due to the move to touchscreen voting machines and electronic voter registration lists. These new technologies are slower than paper.
- Machine breakdowns. In West Virginia six counties have reported touchscreen machines switching their vote. Voters attempted to vote for Obama and they saw the screen switch to McCain. There have been similar reports in Tennessee and Texas. In Texas, where people are allowed to select a straight party vote, the switching is occurring from Democrat to Republican. A CNN poll found that 42% of Americans do not trust their votes will be counted accurately.
- More machine breakdowns. It is not just touchscreen machines showing problems, so are optical scan machines. In Florida there were reports that the optical scan could not read the ballots because they were too long.
- Failure to mail absentee ballots. Sequoia Voting Systems failed to send 11,000 absentee ballots to voters who requested them. Sequoia also did not tell the election administration of the oversight.
- Incomplete ballots. Early voters in two Arkansas counties received incomplete ballots. The election administrator is not going to do anything to correct the problem for those voters and just hopes the election is not close so the votes would not have changed the outcome.
- Voter deception. In Florida Democratic voters received calls falsely telling them they could call in their vote and avoid lines. In Philadelphia, fliers warn that people with outstanding tickets, child support payments and warrants will be arrested when they vote. In Texas, people are told if they want to vote for all the Democrats and make sure they vote for Obama, that after they select Democrat they should then select Obama – in fact, that erases the Obama vote.