I grew up believing that the right to vote was an intimate part of the American Identity. You know, “No taxation without representation,” “give me liberty or give me death,” that sort of thing was what I thought being American was all about. We fought a war of independence over the right to vote (among other things, but this was my youthful impression, as I said.) In my naiveté I believed that all people who voted were informed about the issues and that vote tampering was a thing of the past, from my parents’ childhoods, and that we as a people had outgrown such things. Now, obviously, I know better, and while I try to maintain an optimistic outlook on politics, it certainly isn’t as easy for me as it used to be.
And it seems I still have some of that naiveté today; I thought that our optically scanned paper ballots in Vermont were safe from the Diebold effect. Apparently not:
As you may be aware, in 2004 Vermont passed a law requiring paper ballots on all votes cast. Members of our group were instumental in writing the bill and getting it passed into law. We thought that would help ensure our election system would be secure, but we have since found that the optical scan systems are just as vulnerable to errors and fraund, and we need to take further action.
Great. I’d feel better about this if the people reporting it could spell the word “fraud” correctly, but let’s just assume they have the same proofreaders as the Boston Herald and their facts, if not the presentation, are accurate. While they claim to be nonpartisan, a quick glance at the links leaves that nonpartisanship in question as well. But they do have links to groups fighting for election integrity in almost every state, so there’s hope for accurate election results if we get on top of this whole hackable-election-machine issue.
Of course, there are other complications to consider as well. Myspace recently launched its voter registration plan and has been home to more and more politicians creating myspace pages in order to network with new young voters. I have mixed emotions about Myspace’s involvement, but it seems innocuous enough on the face of it:
The youth-heavy online hangout MySpace.com is launching a voter-registration drive to engage its members in civics. In partnership with the nonpartisan group Declare Yourself, MySpace is running ads on its highly trafficked Web site and giving members tools such as a “I Registered To Vote On MySpace” badge to place on their personal profile pages. . .
To register, members simply go to http://www.myspace.com/declareyourself and enter a state or ZIP code. After entering the requested information, the site generates a PDF file that can be printed and mailed to state election officials. A Spanish version also is available.
Is this Generation Z’s version of RocktheVote? Who knows. As long as they don’t start endorsing candidates I’m alright with it. I think we’re going to see more and more of this same type of campaigning, though, not less. Here’s an idea: why don’t we get the people who keep the most secure websites . . . er, secure . . . to help make and secure the DAMNED VOTING MACHINES?
*sigh* I guess I’m getting more pessimistic as I age. I still think it’s completely unamerican to tamper with people’s votes, and I can’t fathom the type of personality that one would need to do something like that . . . but I know those people are out there. So at least I can do this: I can tell you to register. I can tell you about how important it is to vote. I can encourage you to get involved. Because voting isn’t the same as it used to be. Today, your vote is more important than virtually any time before.
Make yourself heard. Vote.