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Land Shark

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Member since: Thu Dec 30, 2004, 05:48 PM
Number of posts: 6,344

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Florida Election software Flips Vote: Losers Certified as Winners

Election officials always say "human error" is to blame, not computers. But Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher refuses to be silent about her concerns for elections including the upcoming presidential election. Bucher said: “You know the first thing that they tell you is you’re going to scare the voters,” Bucher said. “Well you know what… we’re scared too.”

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher is scared because her office discovered, and then proved, that a software error flipped vote totals between candidates, assigning losing candidate's the vote totals of the winning candidate. See http://miami.cbslocal.com/2012/10/09/cbs4-investigates-palm-beach-countys-2012-ballot-debacle/ Winners of at least two local races from March had previously been announced and certified, but had to be reversed because of the software problem.

Bucher is concerned that many problems will not be detected by the required audits, and that the presidential election could be affected. Id.

“The company didn’t own up to it real quickly and neither did the state. And we had to prove that it was a software error and we did so.”

Bucher said its time to hold Florida accountable– the State of Florida tests and certifies the voting machines for the state. Florida is one of just a handful of states that opted out of the federal program that certifies voting machines… deciding to do it on its own. Bucher said she is not confident in the system and would love to change the system she uses. She also said that the pickings are slim when it comes to finding a better choice.

“What we’re finding out, is that there are problems with almost every system in the United States,” said Bucher. Id.

Supervisor of Elections Bucher was also recently in the national news for being one of ten counties to discover apparently fraudulent voter registration forms (many filled out with similar handwriting) that had been submitted by the Florida' GOP's GOTV effort. Many of these registration forms, as outlined by the LA Times, were "slamming" - changing voters' addresses or party registration and other details without their knowledge (creating problems for these voters at the polls, and likely disfranchising them in a way that escapes exit poll detection).

Many on DU have known that audits don't catch all errors, and in any case arrive too late (the elections with the wrong winner certified were way back in March of this year, and just announced in the media locally in Florida yesterday). Bush v. Gore helps ensure that the clock will run out of time (in the Supreme Court's view) to conduct hand recounts because they must be done statewide and are interrupted by legal challenges. As a practical matter, the vote counts must be done right the first time, and software is a totally unreliable way to do this.

What's news here is that a prominent elections official is admitting what has been known by activists for a long time, and further admitting that she's scared, and not wanting to hide the truth from voters.

RW meta-Talking Point: Those Who Pay Get to Control (Limbaugh, et al) is a Framing Trap

Is the provision of any financial assistance (say, for contraceptives) a COMPLETE WAIVER OF PRIVACY?

Aside from Limbaugh's patent offensiveness, this is the "argument" he is making when he suggests posting sex tapes online for all (taxpayers) to see if the government pays for a woman's contraception. Of course, there are lots of medical records and procedures one would not want posted online for legitimate privacy reasons.

Similarly, FoxNews recently queried if parents should not be allowed to view the text messages of their teenagers IF THE PARENTS PAY FOR the cell phone service. But. it seems that the authority and right to know what one's children are doing comes from the status of being a parent, not from PAYING for a cell phone service. Does Fox really mean to suggest that kids with their own income or job may never be supervised by their parents?

Other examples could be given, but the meta-talking point is "those who pay, get to control."

It's easy to push back on that in the context of private medical and sexual matters, but unless we are careful doing so just lands us into the trap of supporting a principle of non-accountability to taxpayers, which implicates everything from overbroad FOIA denials to black ops and secret government programs. Just as with contraception, information of a "sensitive, private or embarrassing nature" should arguably NOT be open to public view, for the same reasons the tapes of sexual activities arguably made possible by government funding should not be aired.

I think the RW talking point writers would be happy to abandon the current Limbaugh position in favor of the likely progressive response: Just because taxpayers pay for something, doesn't mean taxpayers have a right to know. (citing contraceptives as one example)

These Republicans may think they can win with the Limbaugh feint either way (and that's why they tried it in the first place). Given that progressives can reasonably be expected to push back on Limbaugh, right wingers may be expecting a form of victory no matter what happens, and even if it costs Rush a few advertisers. Note how they can at least try to have their cake and eat it too, because one or both of the following is likely to be the apparent outcome of this otherwise ridiculous episode:

1. Denying/deterring Health care (we shouldn't have the government pay for health care, because it's a waiver of privacy)

2. Protecting government unaccountability and secrecy (just because the taxpayer pays, doesn't mean that embarrassing information should be posted on the internet. i.e. there is no taxpayer right to know)

Right wingers are smart enough to know that what flies under the radar and is largely or totally unexamined intellectually is the most powerful "persuader" or reinforcement. This "under the radar" concept, or subintelligitur, in this case is that Paying gives one the right to know.

But when progressives push back on this issue and argue for limits on the right of taxpayers to know how their tax money is spent (such as the case of contraception), republicans will be happy to seize on that "point of agreement" and apply it elsewhere, such as protecting the Bush administration's activities from coming to any further light. The argument then will be that paying taxes does not establish ANY kind of a right to know about embarrassing uses of that tax money.

This is worth thinking about, at least. I'm sure that for Rush Limbaugh it is not simply the testimony of Ms. Fluke that motivates both his ire and his willingness to go out on a limb. But in case it's really just as simple as that, that won't stop the fallout from this issue being used to hurt progressive causes in other contexts, such as those mentioned above.
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