My vote counts: But counts for what?

I went and voted. Other voters who turned out at the polls on Nov. 6 may have noticed Utah has electronic voting machines now. Within the confines of voting booths, expecting privacy and anonymity, we found the logo of "Diebold," the emissary of Big Brother staring up at us. 

Since the 2004 ballot-tampering debacle, Florida is still going the rounds with electronic voting. 

Washington has eliminated electronic voting altogether, and has made any change in party voting suspicious. They now throw out suspicious votes. 

California’s Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified all Diebold’s voting machines On Aug. 3, after it was discovered that prior to the March 2007 elections, the company had installed uncertified software and devices in machines, sold to counties under conditional approval-highly illegal in California. 

California also discovered that in November 2006, Diebold had installed uncertified software in 17 counties across the state without notifying state officials, including some county voting officials. Civil and criminal charges are now being brought against Diebold. This is not the first time in California,  nor is it an isolated incident in the nation.

Arizona, Washington, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia… The list continues. As previously stated, Florida has been dealing with this problem for a long time.  In fact, Florida State University has uncovered significant problems in security measures for Diebold machines and software. Among these is the ability to easily access and change information from voting terminals in a matter of a few minutes without any trace of tampering.

But many of the other state investigations were triggered by Bruce Funk. Funk is the Elections Coordinator in Emery County, Utah, who publicly announced the serious security problems of Diebold, instead of using hushed tones behind closed doors. When an inquiry began, it was of Mr. Funk more than his allegations. 

Funk became more of a Mr. Smith in a post-Orwellian Washington. Through this incident, he was barred from his job, and the latest information shows his pension status as uncertain.

So, what security problems are at issue here?
Security on Diebold machines consisted of locking a bar over the data card in the machine and attaching a seal to it. Security testers proved this was easily overcome in a matter of minutes by unscrewing the actual machine itself, top from bottom. Once open, the card was extracted and replaced in moments without compromising the seal.

Washington, San Diego, and others said they sent voting machines home with poll workers, once sealed, because the security was sufficient. However, the latest California machines were found to be capable of wireless access.

But the COUP DE GRÂCE was the discovery by California’s Red Team that vote totals could be changed without tracking, and that authorization could be escalated from voter, to poll worker, to central count administrator. Knowledge of the security keys was not needed.

I turned from the booth, disgusted and horrified. The man took the "credit card" voting card that electronically logged my vote and handed me an "I Voted" sticker. 

I walked out. I felt violated. I absentmindedly placed the sticker on my dashboard, and hurried home. As I was driving to class later, I noticed all in a moment the sticker:  the "o" in Voted was an image of a of a fingerprint. "O" my god. We go dutifully in to cast our votes thinking we have some semblance of freedom and some part of the power that we live under. But maybe we don’t. Not like we’d like to think. 

What is more, we are no longer anonymous, private. We haven’t been for a long time. The terrifying reality of this is the electronic ballot: my voting is a way to track me, pin me down, sell me electronically for money. Electronic fingerprint.

The voting volunteers were ignorantly pleased with these little stickers-thought they were fun and creative. They have no concept of the terrible irony. How many people walked around that day with little red stickers that show us all as good citizens, electronically, Orwellian-ly known citizens, willingly submissive to having less and less privacy, autonomy, or rights to enforce accountability.

I think to take back our vote we will first have to take back the machine that is our country.

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