Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Elections in our banana republic

by Larry Geller

It’s been a bad couple of weeks for Hawaii’s election folks, with the Kirk Caldwell/Ann Kobayashi/Duke Bainum fiasco still fresh in our mind. Oh, and ballots sent to the printer without a chance for the parties to check their accuracy.

But the Office of Elections has more to answer for than all that. On Friday, a Maui court will hear a case asking that the Hart voting machines, which transmit their data via hackable phone lines, be banned from use (the complaint is here). The plaintiffs (represented by attorney Lance D. Collins) will appear before Judge Cardoza in Wailuku.

Hawaii is a notable exception to the national trend. What’s bad on the Mainland seems good to our chief elections officer. Makes you wonder. You wonder if our elections officials learned their trade by raising race horses or something, they’re doing such a heck of a job.

More Americans might cast their ballots on paper this fall than in any other election in U.S. history.

An Associated Press Election Research survey has found that 57% of the nation's registered voters live in counties that will be relying on paper ballots this November.

That wasn't supposed to be the case. The government had a $3-billion plan to upgrade voting technology after the hanging-chad fiasco in Florida in 2000. But thousands of touchscreen devices are collecting dust in warehouses from California to Florida. Officials worried about hackers and fed up with technical glitches have replaced the equipment with scanners that will read paper ballots. [Record number of US voters may cast paper ballots, AP, 8/6/2008]

So “thousands of touchscreen devices are collecting dust in warehouses from California to Florida” but Hawaii wants to use these discredited devices.

The paper ballot/scanner system is what counties all across the country are switching to. It’s the system we have now. No hanging chads. Manual recounts are easy. No “flipping” votes, no hackers.

I suggest that our reputation is at stake. We should not only get rid of the computer voting machines, but maybe consider a change in leadership in our elections office.

Can’t we vote these guys off the islands somehow?


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