Election fraud and related musings
Mark‘s been commenting a lot on New Hampshire’s primary and resulting oddities with Diebold voting machines. I’ve been too busy to pay that much attention, but it’s pretty clear there’s a difference in voting patterns correlated with the county using or not using Diebold machines, despite widely varying numbers on that score. The recount is proceeding, but observers haven’t been too impressed with the chain of custody.
I’m not really buying fraud there, though. There’s not much of a reason to swing the election from Obama to Clinton. As far as their policy positions go, they’re almost the same. Obama’s rhetoric is lighter, more inspirational, but anyone who’d rig an election is too cynical to be scared of rhetoric about change. Still, demonstrating fraud is not the issue. Demonstrating that the vote was fair and clean is.
Despite the occasional light at the end of the tunnel, I think e-voting activism is doomed to failure. Election fraud is a useful tool for politicians. Allegations of election fraud are also useful. Such allegations are confined to the Internet for the most part, but will probably grow as more electronic voting machines are used. Rigging elections has been around forever and electronic voting machines make it easier. Certainly some politicians won’t do a whole lot to fix the security issues, as they might have use for them later. Allegations of fraud, on the other hand, motivate people. As long as they don’t get beyond the realm of conspiracy theory, the public at large isn’t that interested. The alleged fraud victim’s base, however, will get irritated by them. Hardcore supporters will work harder, since as Hugh Hewitt title a book of his (apparently without irony), “if it’s not close, they can’t cheat.” Politicians, being good at playing to different segments of the population even when their interests conflict, can publicly avoid such allegations and quietly encourage them among their core supporters.
That’s not say any of that has happened. Voter fraud allegations surrounding electronic voting machines are still not widespread enough. It doesn’t look good, though. We just have to hope we can push a few of our elected officials to overcome such cynical manipulations and do something about it.