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What don't Americans have in common with Iran?

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Message Lani Massey Brown
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Today, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched during their fifth day of protests to demand fair elections in Iran, while here in the U.S. we can finally rest assured our election systems are actually counting the votes, all of them. The proof is in last November’s election, right? Maybe your guy won. Maybe not. But at least there was a valid and convincing win. Right?  . . . Wrong.

The win was indeed convincing. But were the results valid? Probably not, considering the hefty number of voting errors reported in 2008 and again this year. In fact the only real difference between the Presidential Election in 2008 and those in 2004 and 2000 is the clear and convincing margin of victory. Otherwise . . .

It’s troubling that we don’t and can’t know for certain how big last year’s Presidential win actually was, how many votes were cast for each candidate, how many votes were true undervotes and how many votes were simply lost. But it’s frightening to know that 2012 could be a repeat of prior election fiascos.

So, while Iranians march for their votes to be counted, consider that in 2009, voting problems were reported in CA, CO, SD, IL, KS, MS, NJ, PA, VA, and WI. In 2008:  AR, CA, CO, CT, DC,  FL, GA, IA, IN, IL, KS,  KY, MD, MN, NC, NJ, NV, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV. See for detailed error reports. 

While Florida breathed a collective sigh of relief when it passed 2008’s election without becoming fodder for the nation’s election jokes again, in April 2009, Saline County, KS discovered vote flipping on their ES&S iVotronic touch screens. "The problem was this: When a voter pressed a certain candidate's bar on the voting machine's screen, the candidate above the selected candidate instead received the checkmark." (Think Bush versus Kerry and Buchanan versus Jennings.) The county later found that this error was due to a screen calibration problem affecting 22,619 ES&S iVotronic voting machines. (Think Sarasota iVotronics 2006).

Perhaps you believe all the hype about stolen elections is just that . . . hype.  Or perhaps you believe the voting problems in all those other states were fixed. Maybe you’re so saturated with news of actual failed elections, you don’t vote because you figure your vote won’t count anyway.

But in Iran, 32 Iranians died for their votes.

Matt Bors’ cartoon featured on OpEdNews yesterday says a lot about us. But it doesn’t say it all. What can we do? Remove the cloak of, “Ooh this is Elections and these are voting machines,” from the Election Officials’ tool box. “Voting machines” are computers. Period. You buy a computer, you expect it to work. You demand that it works. You run or work in a business, your business demands accountability and valid results that can be reproduced. The profitable business follows good business practices at all levels to procure and test and maintain computers and equipment. Why should we expect less of the business that elects our president?


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Author of A MARGIN OF ERROR: BALLOTS OF STRAW, featured in "Small Press Bookwatch" - Politics is a tough career, with more knives in (more...)

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