Why Ireland Scrapped All Their Voting Machines (Video)

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Ireland decided this week to scrap their voting machines–like the ones here stored in Dublin. They’re selling them for scrap metal, because they found they were too unreliable and too easy to hack. They’d only used them once, back in 2002, but that was enough. Unfortunately, America hasn’t learned as quickly as the Irish. It used to be in America that exit polls were the gold standard to determine if there were shenanigans in an election. For over a century we used them, and we got very, very good at it. They almost never deviated by more than a few tenths of a point from the actual electoral outcome, and when they did, it was a sure sign of fraud.

Such a sure sign that exit polls were used successfully to expose – and then overturn – fraudulent elections in Ukraine, Serbia, and Georgia. Polling companies were really good at this, and had great success in the election of 1998, when voting machines only recorded 7 percent of the national vote. But in the elections of 2000 and 2002, something odd began to happen. It was called “red shift” because, in certain states where there were a lot of voting machines being used, Republican candidates did better in the vote the machines reported than in the exit polls. In the election of 2004, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio led the charge with a red shift toward George W. Bush of 276,000 votes in New York, 228,000 in Florida, 190,000 in Pennsylvania, 169,000 in Ohio.

It had started two years earlier, in 2002, when voting machines began to appear everywhere across America because George W. Bush signed into effect a law called the Help America Vote Act or HAVA that gave billions of dollars to the states so they could buy these machines from private corporations like Diebold and ES&S. It was the high water point of the privatization of our vote. For two centuries, our vote was counted by volunteers and government workers overseen by representatives of the political parties. That all changed between 2000 and 2004 – now over 90 percent of our vote is recorded or counted in secret on corporate machines, and those corporations tell us who one our elections. Why is it secret? Because, the voting machine companies say, they have copyright and trademark “rights” to keep their software and hardware secret from us.

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