Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Little Election Fraud Never Hurt Anyone

It is Election Day, and boy are we angry. Depending on your preferred flavor of outrage, you can find reports of Republican attempts to suppress votes or Democratic attempts to manufacture them. If any federal elections are close, you can look forward to the light brigade of election lawyers charging forth in obfuscation. These are the fruits of Bush/Gore 2000.

How did we get to this point, where not just elections themselves, but arbitration over to how to count them has become such a focus of bitter conflict? Part of it is presumably because the electorate itself is so evenly divided, and that in turn is partly a function of the fact that modern political parties know how to paint their candidates in such a way that they appeal to the center, which is where the votes are. Part of it is perhaps because of the big issues at stake, most obviously Iraq and terror. And yet this can't be the total explanation; the angriest election was the 2000 one, which of course occured before September 11. And in recent years democracy itself has become a sort of civi sacrament, elbowing aside more pressing considerations of the rule of law and liberty - of limits, in other words, of what the democratic majority may do upon taking power.

And another important factor is that the wave of political change ushered in by the 1960s has now crested and is beginning to recede. There is now an entire generation of Americans that has no memory of Vietnam or the angry protests against it. Instead, their memories are informed by the economic and geopolitical disaster of the 1970s and the boom years of the 1980s and 1990s. Americans have drawn a line in some respects against further advancement of the agenda of the now-old New Left. Affirmative action has hit the wall, welfare reform was the most important domestic policy achievement of the 1990s, and there is no going back from free trade and the job losses it has caused among traditionally Democratic constituents. On the conservative side, the chances of Roe v. Wade being overturned recede with each day, but still, abortion and gay marriage are seen as life-and-death issues for the Republic, and politicians on the right have an incentive to make sure that their potential voters see it so.

All of this is unfortunate, because it involves Americans wastefully channeling their energies into government to address what they see as the problems of American society, when once upon a time looking to one's own tightly knit community would have served. Once upon a time most of these issues would not be something that would even be in political play; now they are, and so politics is everything. This is an unavoidable result of anointing government as The Great Problem Solver.

Perhaps the most striking, and historically ignorant, example of Election Day anger concerns the belief that electronic voting machines have been rigged in advance. While not unknown on the right, this is a common belief on the left, because it fits in so nicely with their general penchant for anti-corporate conspiracism. (The Diebold company, which manufactures a huge proportion of the new voting machines in the US, is the usual target of these theories.) It is undoubtedly true, as any progressive computer scientist will tell you, that security on these machines is lax. But we got these machines because the previous generation gave us hanging chads and therefore Bush v. Gore, and the generation before that gave us ballot boxes stuffed with Democratic votes, long the stuff of right-wing lore. The smartest thing anybody ever said about the 2000 election was that we have no idea who won Florida, because our voting technology is not sufficiently precise, as indeed no voting technology is, to say who won when the public is as closely divided as it was, and is.

The ultimate tragedy of 2000 is that it has unleashed the ravenous appetites of the lawyers onto our election system, which will unavoidably further corrode the faith of Americans in the entire election process. Some clever lawyer, maybe both sides’ lawyers simultaneously, can always find a way to persuade his most avid partisans that the facts are on his side. I almost long for the day when Mayor Daley and Senator Lyndon Johnson can quietly stuff the 1960 ballot boxes, and Richard Nixon can quietly accept his resulting defeat despite knowing the magnitude of the irregularities. As long as it wasn't too blatant, a little ballot-stuffing by the incumbent party was the price to be paid for distributing the election-victory treasure around in a way that minimzed social bitterness. But that implied social contract is long gone. It is costly when the votes are improperly counted. It is costlier still when endless bitter litigation seeks to vindicate the ultimately unprovable claims of the angriest among us that their guy won.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Institutional Election Fraud is Weapon of Mass Destruction- by Kautilya Hegel
November 13, 2006, Philadelphia, Monday, 1:00 PM. (1) FAULTY ELECTION PROCESS: The vested interests might have compromised the faulty election process in major democracies of the world, namely, USA as well as India, which allows those empowered to supervise the Election process to conspire the election process to deny the Third Party and Independent Voters, their fair share of political power and election victories. If entrenched interests continue to sabotage the free and fair election system in India and USA to keep the entrenched politicians in power, then the Democracy as an institution is under grave threat in USA and India.
(2) ELECTION FRAUD IS WMD: The institutionalized election frauds, carried out by those responsible for the free fair and impartial conduct of Elections in USA, Russia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and etc., presents greatest threat to human civilization in 21st century. Election Frauds in major democratic nations allow mediocre less competent leadership capture levers of political power in USA as well as India, scuttling the rise of Civilization States of USA and India.
(3) OUTDATED CONSTITUTIONS: Every constitution of democratic nations needs a total facelift by New Constitutional Assembly, convened every fifty years. The US Constitution of 1777 and Indian Constitution of 1950 have become outdated and require total redrafting at hands of new Constitutional Assemblies. United States requires a Federal Election Commission, responsible for the conduct of the entire election process in Federal, State and Local Elections. The 4500+ County Canvassing Boards allows party officials appointed by the two major parties, hijack the will of the people. In India the practice of appointing government officials in election commission requires scrutiny. The Electronic Voting machines without a paper trail operated and managed by political party appointed election officials at the County Canvassing Boards made the mockery of American Democracy in election 2006. The two leading political parties in USA as well as India could be part of an organized conspiracy to steal elections.
(4) GLOBAL ELECTION WATCH: USA and India should allow international observers to watch the conduct of elections. Let us debate: Whether the election process in USA or India prone to election frauds and what could be possible remedies. Kautilya Hegel invites International volunteers to supervise elections process and conduct of elections worldwide. Let us create an Election Watch organization in every city of the world, and volunteers for Election Watch worldwide, which would also supervise US Elections of 2008 and next Parliamentary Elections in India.
Professor Kautilya Hegel, Director- Election Watch, Inc.,

2:37 PM  

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