Voting Season

I’m not sure I can wait one more day to find out just who Barack Obama is planning to pick as his Vice President. I check my phone every 20 minutes to see if Obama’s campaign has sent the announcement via SMS!

Unfortunately my excitement is hindered by the recognition that as we approach the 2008 general election, I’m constantly reminded that the structure of voting in elections in the United States has become dependent on large corporations which are not accountable to the public. It is, in its essence, the privatization of yet another sector. On August 18th, released a report entitled “Vendors Are Undermining the Structure of U.S. Elections”. The report, which is based on interviews with state and local election officials, news reports, reports from governmental agencies, vendor contracts and other public documents focuses on the control a handful of voting system vendors exercise over election administration in nearly every state.

According to the report which focuses on several case studies to prove its point, these vendors are unaccountable and untrustworthy. So my question is: How is that we have let voting system vendors undermine the foundation of American democracy? Is there anything that we can do about it?

Well don’t look to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). That’s an Orwellian term for a piece of legislation if I’ve ever heard one! HAVA effectively mandates unsafe and unreliable changes to electronic voting machines which are fraught with complications, leads to confusion and voter intimidation (through ID requirements), has caused massive amounts of misappropriate of funding, and generally complicates the voter registration process.

There is some good news though. Some states are throwing out electronic voting machines. And check out the work of some groups that are working hard for election protection, like Voter Action.

There’s nothing more important than having fair elections. In fact, it’s integral to our democracy. As we prepare for another presidential election, the question persists as to whether voters will be able to access the ballot in an equal and meaningful way. Let’s hope that the political rights of every voter to independently cast a ballot and have their vote recorded and counted accurately is possible.