State and County Elections officials from coast to coast to coast are now in a mad, confused, frustrated scramble trying to figure out how the hell to comply with and make sense of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) legislation.
HAVA has proven to be an unmitigated disaster, gamed as it was from the start by Congressmen like Ohio's Bob Ney working in cahoots with voting machine companies. The effort has shamefully employed disabilities groups like the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) and American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), who received more than a million dollars from companies such as Diebold, Inc., to help trump up the sympathy factor in order to force jurisdictions to purchase unreliable electronic voting machines (read: junk), said to be needed by disabled voters who would be unable to vote in secret without assistance from others.
As of the 1/1/06 HAVA deadline, Boards of Elections are now officially plunged into complete and utter disarray as they attempt to comply with the reckless and cynical legislation's mandated requirement (dreamt up by the American Voting Machines Vendors who stand to make billions) for at least one disabled-accessible voting device in every precinct around the country --- even in small precincts without a single disabled voter!
Touch-screen (DRE) voting machines created by mega-corporations like Diebold, Inc. and ES&S have been proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to be unsecure, hackable, unreliable and finally, not fully accessible by many segments of the disabled community. Meanwhile, the one electronic-based device in which voters with disabilities have expressed the most interest, the AutoMARK system, has reportedly been kept largely out of the marketplace through a number of means. ES&S, the voting machine company who managed to secure exclusive rights to distribute the AutoMARK system, has reportedly been overpricing it in favor of their own DRE systems. As well, there have been a number of reports of ES&S sales reps being actively dissuaded from properly demonstrating that system in pitches to potential customers around the country.
As well, states such as Florida and many others have been incredibly slow at certifying the system --- which prints a readable, verifiable, recountable paper ballot with every vote cast --- even while they've already giving their blessings to DRE systems made by both Diebold and ES&S, despite the demonstrated inaccuracy, hackability and secret-software that employs "interpreted" source code, explicitly banned by HAVA guidelines.
With the rapid approach of the 2006 primary elections, the question is now: What the hell are these Boards of Election around the country going to do, to both meet HAVA requirements for voters with disabilities and provide all voters with some semblance of an accurate, reliable, recountable, democratic means of casting their vote in secret and with some certainty that it may be counted, and counted correctly?
Comes now, with not a moment to spare, an ingeniously simple, non-electronic device to allow voters with disabilities of all sorts to be able to cast their own vote, in secret, and with the knowledge that their paper ballot will accurately reflect their intent.
Say hello to the Vote-PAD, the little paper and plastic voting assistive device, that just may save American democracy...