Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Politics of Burned Up Voting Machines

It takes a one-off event like burning up every eSlate voting machine in Harris County to reveal how Republicans and Democrats differ in the whole issue of voter fraud and voter suppression.

As it turns out if you are a Republican, you are in favor of voter fraud despite the length of time you take wailing about it, and you are also in favor of vote suppression – something that they don’t really strive to deny to any real extent.

If you are a Democrat, you are against both voter fraud and vote suppression.

Nothing could be more clear after reading this article in the Houston Chronicle about the measures being taken to avoid complete chaos in the November election.

Harris County, as it turns out, will be able to replace 2,325 of its 10,000 burned up eSlate voting machines, and will be able to have 4 of them in operation at each and every one of its 736 polling places.

Anyone who has voted with eSlate knows that 4 per polling place is not enough. So as a result, Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, a Republican by the way, has adopted a “hybrid system” wherein a voter who wishes to use a voting machine will have to stand in line for that, but voters will also have the option of using a paper ballot.

They plan on printing up 1.4 million paper ballots.

“I don't think we need to be stingy with them,” Kaufman is quoted as having said.

Now come to find out, this does not sit well with Republican County Chair Jared Woodfill. Woodfill, as it turns out would have preferred to stay with a 100% voting machine system because of voter fraud.

I kid you not.

“It prevents fraud at the ballot box," Woodfill said. "If you revert back to paper, you have a lot of the issues involving voter fraud.”
County Democratic Party Chair Jerry Birnberg, by contrast, couldn’t be happier with the hybrid system, and paper ballots.

“Paper ballots are less vulnerable to fraud, Birnberg said.”

“‘In a paper ballot situation, you can always go back and manually recount,’ Birnberg said. ‘How do you recount an electronic voting machine?’”
How indeed?Like say, not being able to change the vote numbers in the little cartridges that are loaded into the vote counter. Like having a “paper trail.”

The contrast couldn’t be clearer. Republicans prefer voting machines because paper ballots are more vulnerable to voter fraud. Democrats prefer paper ballots because voting machines are more vulnerable to voter fraud.

That and the fact that a 100% voting machine environment in Harris County would mean long lines and frustrated voters all across Harris County, something that Republicans not only look forward to, but actually count on.

The verdict is still not in on how the fire at the Harris County warehouse got started. I have my suspicions, but that is neither here nor there. What is important now is to realize that whoever conceived of this failed to realize that when news hits the streets that Harris County, the most populous voter concentration in the state lost each and every one of their voting machines in a fire at a warehouse where a Republican was responsible for their storage – keeping all of their eggs in one basket, as it were – it is obvious that the Republican County Clerk will bend over backwards to alleviate the situation That she will go into panic mode to do it. And in doing so, go against the express wishes of her party chair.

Because not to do this practically invites the Justice Department to take over the whole election process in Harris County.

I guess they should have thought of that before striking that match.


Perry Dorrell, aka PDiddie said...

Great post, Hal.

Hal said...

Thanks Perry.

As a county poll watcher I know you have an interest here.

Also I appreciate the kudos from a peer.

- H