But No Such Outrage About the Ownership of the RIGHTWING Voting Machine Companies...
What a surprise.
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2006, 3:04pm PT  

More subpoenas seem to be on the way for voting machine company officials, this time in Illinois where it looks like the city aldermen in Chicago, according to the Sun-Times are none-too-happy to be forced to continue payments to Sequoia Voting Systems who ran such a disastrous primary on new electronic machines across the state just a few weeks ago.

A similar battle has been underway in Texas where officials have been trying to avoid payment to ES&S for the primary disaster down there on March 7th, just two weeks before the Illinois debacle.

In the meantime, the hypocrisy of the Right Wing continues vis a vis Electronic Voting Machines and their newly discovered concerns, as we reported late last week, about a Venezuelan company, possibly tied to Hugo Chavez, controlling the Sequoia company, and thus having an unknown and troubling amount of concern over American elections.

As in the wingnut piece we pointed to last week, Richard Brand in the Miami Herald (via right-leaning RealClearPolitics.com) is horrified that a company tied to Chavez may be having undue influence over American elections.

Not a word in Brand's piece about the influence over American elections by partisan companies, run by partisan executives, such as Diebold, ES&S, Hart InterCivic and others who are given carte blanche to use secret, uninspected software to count almost every citizen's vote in the country by now.

So, again, while we're happy to see concern --- no matter where it comes from --- about the little-noticed watershed change in our electoral system which now allows private companies to control the most sacred element of our democracy, with virtually zero checks, balances or public oversight, it's incredibly hypocritical (even by wingnut standards), to turn a blind eye to the Rightwing influence over all the other companies who have even more control over more of American votes.

We'd hope that the concerns about Chavez would suddenly help these guys realize what the hell has been going on here. We're concerned about any private corporation having such influence over our elections. But, in typical Rightwing blinders-on fashion, it's only votes that are perceived to be questionable because they might have undue influence from the Left that seems to concern these folks.

What a pity. But hardly a surprise.

To underscore that irony/hypocrisy, take a look at this concern of Brand's about a recent Venezualan elections run on machines made by Smartmatic, the company which now owns Sequoia (and be sure you're sitting down when you read it)...

When the vote finally came, exit polls by New York's Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates showed Chßvez had been defeated 59 to 41 percent; however, when official tallies were announced, the numbers flipped to 58-42 in favor of Chßvez.

Yes, Brand is upset to see that the exit polls in Venezuala said one thing, and yet the final tallies said another.

Knock us over with a feather.

Then there's this:

Venezuela's electoral council briefly posted machine-by-machine tallies on the Internet but removed them as mathematicians from MIT, Harvard and other universities began questioning suspicious patterns in the results.

Holy cow! What an outrage! "Suspicious patters" in results posted on the Internet and removed later?! We hope that such a thing would never occur in an American Election!!! Oh, wait...

Finally, Brand raps it all up in concern for Smartmatic's convoluted ownership chain and compares it to the Dubai ports fiasco:

Why Smartmatic has chosen yet again to abuse the corporate form apparently to conceal the nationality and identity of its true owners is a question that should worry anyone who votes using one of its machines. Congress panicked upon hearing that our ports would be run by an American ally, Dubai, but never asked whether America's actual enemies in Venezuela have been able to acquire influence in our electoral process.

Newsflash for Brand (and the rest of those concerned about enemies, apparently foreign but not domestic, and the acquisition of "influence in our electoral process"): Our constitution and country was not built on "Trust Us" and "Faith-Based Democracy". It was built on checks, balances, and strict oversight by the people of all things publicly run by the Government. If our Electoral Democracy doesn't fall at the top of the list of such publicly run duties of the Government and which demands transparency and strict oversight, we don't know what does.

To that end, the secret ownership of Sequoia Voting Systems is no more troubling than the ownership of any Voting Machines Company who is allowed to run and yes, control, our elections with virtually ZERO responsibility to be accountable to the people.

Richard Brand: rmb381@nyu.edu
Miami-Herald: Feedback page

(Hat tip Carolyn Kay for the pointer to Brand's article.)