Long, long ago, when the elders of the tribe gathered to choose a new leader, they often “cast lots.” Many centuries have come and gone since then, and more sophisticated methods have emerged. Today, some American states even employ electronic voting machines. But the results still might depend on the luck of the draw – or divine intervention, if you prefer.
I have just read an article from Harper’s Magazine, distributed by Reader Supported News, that painstakingly spells out the way in which voting machines are used to steal American elections. Titled “How to Rig an Election,” the piece left me downhearted.
Here’s an excerpt:
As November 6 approaches, only one thing is certain: American voters will have no ability to know with certainty who wins any given race, from dogcatcher to president. Nor will we know the true results of ballot initiatives and referenda affecting some of the most vital issues of our day, including fracking, abortion, gay marriage, GMO-food labeling, and electoral reform itself. Our faith-based elections are the result of a new Dark Age in American democracy, brought on, paradoxically, by techological progress.
The article meticulously traces the development of voting machine fraud and examines the criminal past of some of the people behind it. The writer, Victoria Collier, explains that it’s frighteningly easy to tamper with the machines. She reports:
As recently as September 2011, a team at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory hacked into one of Diebold’s old Accuvote touchscreen systems. Their report asserted that anyone with $26 in parts and an eighth-grade science education would be able to manipulate the outcome of an election.
Reading Ms. Collier’s laborious treatise, my thoughts turned to an earlier article disclosing Mitt Romney’s financial interest in the company that owns and operates voting machines in Ohio. And I recalled the rash of “dirty tricks” Republicans are using to try and steal this election… destroying Democratic voter registrations, purging registration rolls, enacting discriminatory voter ID laws, intimidating minorities with scary billboards and vigilante poll watching groups, distributing false election information, curtailing early voting periods….
With all of this stuff going on, what’s the point of watching the election-night results?
What’s the point of voting?
But somewhere in my bemused brain, a vague kind of logic emerged to provide a glimmer of hope.
There are more than 200 million registered voters in America. It occurred to me that with so many votes to count and so many factors to contend with, the election riggers might be confounded by the complexity of their task. Besides, the machines themselves are notoriously prone to glitches that could make the vote rigging efforts backfire.
And, especially in this election, there’s Mother Nature.
Who knows how Hurricane Sandy will affect the election? What voting machines might the “perfect storm” knock out? What voters might stay home? What “key” states might be impacted?
As the old proverb observes, man proposes but God disposes.
Election results today might well be as much of a toss-up as they were in the days of casting lots.
The best we can do is cast our votes. And pray.