Electronic Machine Politics

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

When I first skimmed over the title to this very important column by Richard Brand ("Why is Hugo Chavez Involved With U.S. Voting Machines?") over at RealClear Politics, my brain thought of the idiom "machine politics". "Well, now! It's about time," I thought, "someone wrote a long expose on the collusion between Chavez and Democrat politicians in the Northeast." This coziness, based on Chavez offering oil for prices he graciously reduced from the high ones he helped fix via OPEC, bears a striking resemblance to what he does throughout Latin America. An unchecked Hugo Chavez could end up having grave security implications for the United States.

Alas, it was not to be. And worse, the column was about something else entirely, something that might obviate the need for Chavez to bribe gullible Democrats. Recall this, from an outstanding article I blogged recently that detailed the vice grip Chavez has on Venezuela.

... Just this past November a group of academics disclosed the findings of a new study they had just completed with regards to the August 2004 vote. [This was an election to recall Hugo Chavez held, against long odds and a systematic campaign of voter intimidation by the Chavistas. --ed] ... Their study concluded that between 1.5 and 2 million votes had been inserted into voting machines, turning a 5 percentage point victory for the opposition into a 20 point defeat.


[A]t a voting simulation for international observers, the [Venezuelan] opposition demonstrated that Smartmatic voting machines to be used in the election could be used to keep track of individual votes. As observers voted in a mock election a man named Leopoldo Gonzalez read aloud for whom each person had voted. Embarrassed, Smartmatic technicians had him stop the demonstration and in the days that would follow the government would offer further concessions in an attempt to have the election as planned despite this demonstration. [bold added]
Who would have guessed that Chavez and his cronies -- never content to demonstrate the evils of state ownership of private companies on just their own citizens -- now own the company that makes American voting machines!
Congress spent two weeks overreacting to news that Dubai Ports World would operate several American ports, including Miami's, but a better target for their hysteria would be the acquisition by Smartmatic International of California-based Sequoia Voting Systems, whose machines serve millions of U.S. voters. That Smartmatic -- which has been accused by Venezuela's opposition of helping Chavez rig elections in his favor -- now controls a major U.S. e-voting firm should give pause to anybody who thinks that replacing our antiquated butterfly ballots and hanging chads will restore Americans' faith in our electoral process. [bold added]
The article, which follows this bombshell with details on the thrown Venezuelan election, then concludes:
Why Smartmatic has chosen yet again to abuse the corporate form apparently to conceal the nationality and identity of its true owners is a question that should worry anyone who votes using one of its machines. Congress panicked upon hearing that our ports would be run by an American ally, Dubai, but never asked whether America's actual enemies in Venezuela have been able to acquire influence in our electoral process.
The bad thing obout Congressional myopia is this: there's a whole world of things one can miss by being near-sighted! I really hope, now that this has come to light, it gets taken seriously, especially by the REPUBLICANS, whose majority in the House isn't exactly secure to begin with!

-- CAV


10-29-06: Added missing hyperlink to RCP article.

1 comment:

Gus Van Horn said...

I rarely go there, but it sounds like a place where Linux enthusiasts hang out. If there's a downside to Linux as an interest, it's having to see Microsoft spelled with an accusatory dollar sign all the time.