Archive for May 6, 2008
“Hacking Democracy” on HBO: Still Timely
By Jerry Depew, Iowa Voters
times over the next few weeks HBO will show the 2006 movie “Hacking
Democracy,” an investigation of voting machines. A little progress has
been made to protect democracy from these machines, but the movie’s
central questions remain unaddressed: How did Florida’s Volusia County
report negative votes for Al Gore in 2000? And how can we defend
against miscounted paper ballots when computers do the counting in
We Iowans are patting ourselves on the back, having just dumped our
touchscreens. But the legislature failed to take the next step–auditing
the paper ballots after the computerized scanners do the initial count.
The movie makes clear why this is needed.
This is a vivid and eye-opening film. Although I had read about many
of the episodes documented in it, I had not seen it until today. I
don’t have HBO, I never bought the DVD and never took the time to watch
the nine part YouTube edition which starts here. Luckily for me a friend in Pocahontas taped the HBO showing yesterday and drove it over to my house.
I know some of what has happened since the film was first issued. It
hints that the 2004 recount in Ohio was rigged, and indeed two people
later got jail terms for their part in rigging it. It recounts several
investigations by computer scientists into voting machine computer
code, but there have been more investigations since. All of them always
produce bad news for the voting machine advocates.
The film shows how some Florida scanners were hacked. The county
involved got rid of those machines, but they (Diebold scanners) still
dominate in Iowa.
We know what to do. We must count ballots by hand after the computer
counts. If the race is close, we must count quite a few of the ballots.
If it’s a landslide, we can audit a much smaller number of ballots. But
we can’t take the computer’s word for it–ever.
Ask your local election workers at the June primary if they have
seen the movie. Ask your favorite candidates if they have seen it. Ask
your auditor why no audits are planned. Ask Secretary Mauro, too.