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Scourge of US elections: Electoral College, hackable voting machines and obscure rules

By       Message Cynthia McKinney       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   12 comments

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Jesus once remarked to a wealthy man that "it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to go to heaven."

Today, we could amend the words of that Biblical reference with the US presidential race underway:

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a voter in the US to know and understand the rules regulating the administration of all elections, including elections for President of the United States."

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Let's start with the phenomenon of what is called a "minority president." No, that is not a president who identifies as an ethnic or racial minority in the US. A minority president is one who has failed to win a plurality of the votes cast in the race for president, and yet is still able to become President of the United States. This is the exact opposite of what a true democracy would require; perhaps not even a pure democracy would entertain such a position such as the "Office of the Presidency." But that is an entirely different matter.

The United States has actually had several minority presidents in its history, while the 21st century began ominously enough with yet another minority President: George W. Bush, the Republican who failed to secure the most votes cast by the people [in the 2000 election, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, decided the victor of the race after moving to halt the recount process in the state of Florida].

Both the US House and the US Senate are charged with counting the Electoral College votes, and this is a process in which I have participated. The constitutionally mandated process was circumvented by the precedent-setting Bush v. Gore Supreme Court ruling that instructed future Courts not to use the decision as a precedent!

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As this case aptly proved, it's not the people who have the last word in US elections. It's a non-democratic construct called the Electoral College that does, except in those rare instances when it doesn't.

The Electoral College was created by the framers of the US Constitution to ensure that the votes of the plebes did not supersede the interests of the landed gentry. That's not just my opinion. For example, according to FairVote, an organization with which I worked in the 2000 Presidential election, a whopping 78 percent of the votes cast were rendered unimportant due to the arcane rules of the Electoral College. They estimate that in 2008, the figure still topped 70 percent.

In order to be declared the winner of the presidency, 270 Electoral College votes are required. But the process is not what could be called transparent. For example, veteran Pro Se litigator Asa Gordon has demonstrated how the Black vote in the US is rendered less relevant by the arcane apportionment rules of the Electoral College. And when the Electoral College is deadlocked, which has happened before, then the matter falls to the United States House of Representatives to decide who will be allowed to serve in the White House.

Hacking Democracy

Add to the above debacles, the US Congress and the election authorities in the 50 states have authorized and encouraged the use of hackable electronic voting machines that are used for vote casting and vote tabulation. Bev Harris and her company, Black Box Voting, has accumulated horror stories surrounding the non-transparency of US elections. I have worked closely with Harris because the danger of these machines is self-evident to everyone except the officials who continue to purchase them for millions of dollars, putting millions of voters' most precious political asset at risk.

John Dardenne @johndardenne
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Bernie beat Hillary by 22% but she'll break even in New Hampshire because of SuperDelegates. That is not democracy. The system is rigged.

Such a scenario is what led former President Jimmy Carter to comment he "absolutely" could not be elected today under such conditions, going so far as to characterize the United States as an oligarchy, not a democracy.

"Hacking Democracy" is only one of the many documentaries to expose the fallibility of the actual voting process in the US. Other documentaries focus on how private money has corrupted its election process.

In addition to the insecure hardware, I am sorry to write that the voter list is kept on an electronic device and if the voter's name fails to appear on the list, the voter has little recourse.

In the US, votes and vote tabulation processes are done without any traceable back-up procedures. In other words, there is no paper trail -- no receipt of a vote, as it were -- whatsoever. In one of my Congressional elections in which the electronic voting machines "failed," not only was I unable to obtain the election data despite a lawsuit having been filed, an expert witness for the state of Georgia testified that voters have to simply "trust" that the announced winner is the actual winner. Meanwhile, candidates have no access to the raw election data because that information is "owned" by Diebold -- the company that produced the electronic voting machines and the software used by them (The documentary "American Blackout" tells my own personal story with US elections).

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Cynthia Ann McKinney (born March 17, 1955) is a former United States Representative and the 2008 Green Party nominee for President of the United States. McKinney served as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993–2003 and (more...)
 

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