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October 05, 2004 - Image 4

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 5, 2004

OPINION

+ a+ +420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigcndaily.cr m

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

JORDAN SCHRADER
Editor in Chief
JASON Z. PESICK
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority
of the Daily's editorial board. All other pieces do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
All of the benefits
that I'd been promised
during those 26 years
have been erased by
corporate American
greed."
- United Airlines pilot, speaking anony-
mously, in response to the airline's statement
that it would most likely default on its pension
plan payments, as reported yesterday by the
Christian Science Monitor.

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Voting machines and the men who love them
STEVE COTNER RK E i-ALT

6

n Jan.2,2004, God
told Pat Robertson
that George W.
Bush would be re-elected.
Or rather, that was the day
Robertson announced the
communique. Since 1998,
newspapers have published
stories on the "aura of inevi-
tability" that surrounds Bush,
as if he really is "The Chosen One," as his mother
has called him. And Bush himself has clearly stated
that he will be elected once again. He is not so much
an incumbent as an incarnation. What could possibly
make Republicans so confident about themselves?
It begins with the 2000 selection, which was pulled
off without too much trouble. In that year, we know
from Greg Palast's reporting in the Guanian and
Salon that Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida "moved to purge
57,700 people from the voter rolls, supposedly crimi-
nals not allowed to vote. Most were innocent of crimes,
but the majority were guilty of being Black." That's
what made the vote so close - not any hanging chads,
pregnant chads, sadomasochist chads, etc. But even
with this ethnic cleansing, the vote was not delivered
for Bush. So, as the Florida Supreme Court became
dangerously close to a Gore victory, the U.S. Supreme
Court stole it out of its jurisdiction and invoked the 14th
Amendment's Equal Protection clause - a protection
for minorities that the 5-to-4 Republican majority
ordinarily avoids like the plague - in order to say that
some 60,000 "undervotes" should be thrown out in
order to protect the "fundamental right to vote." Vin-
cent Bugliosi's account in The Nation and the book
that came of it, "The Betrayal of America," survive as

the unchallenged documentation of this crime against
democracy.
So with that, Bush completed his quiet coup d'etat,
mostly undetected, while our reporters were busy
laughing at punch-card terminology. Now he has
promised to do it again, and we have no reason to
doubt him. The 2002 Help America Vote Act has
has done two things for Republicans: first, it requires
all states to follow a Florida-style computerization
of voter files, and then empowers Secretaries of
state to purge "suspect" voters. Second, it provides
a half billion dollars to move states into computer-
ized voting machines, and three companies have
stepped in to help us wayward voters. All of them
Election Systems & Software, Diebold, and Sequoia
- have strong ties with the Bush administration
and other Republicans, along with the major defense
contractors Northrup-Grumman, Lockheed-Mar-
tin, Electronic Data Systems and Accenture. ES&S
and Diebold are owned by brothers Bob and Todd
Urosevich, who will be counting about 80 percent of
the votes cast in 2004. Bob, the CEO of Diebold, is a
Bush fundraising pioneer and has promised publicly
to deliver the vote for Bush in 2004.
How could he do that? The Diebold method
is much cleaner than dealing with felon lists and
Supreme Court decisions. In the 2000 election,
Diebold simply added and subtracted where it liked.
In Volusia County, Fla., 4,000 erroneous votes
appeared for Bush, and 10,000 votes went to the
Socialist Workers Party (half of their nationwide
total), while Al Gore actually received negative
16,022 votes. Yes, negative. Bev Harris documents
this and nearly every other voter machine fraud since
1980 in her book"Black Box Voting," which is freely

available online.
OK, then, some people want to rig our elections.
Whatls new? As Harris points out, we've been con-
ducting elections for more than adozen centuries, and
at one time or another, every system ever designed
has been rigged. But today the whole country is in
the hands of a few men and their army of program-
mers who hide from public inquiry under proprietary
contracts to protect "trade secrets." Our own desires
are incidental to those of the election industry. A
company programmer can install a backdoor hit-
and-run code set to activate itself on Nov. 2, change
the original votes and then destroy itself. Every step
of the transaction is vulnerable to fraud. Whole ballot
boxes hang on for life in tiny memory cards, easily
lost and replaced without a trace.
This is not some vague complaint about new
technology. It is about the very specific group of
men behind it, who now have the power to simulate
democracy undetected. Even if Kerry is elected, the
system is still the same. We cannot wait to be out-
raged when a dictator takes power The trap has
already been laid. The radical historian Howard Zinn
likes to say that elections are not the most important
thing, that social activist movements are what forced
abolition and civil rights. But at a time when our
votes are being rewritten by the right-wing's pet com-
puter algorithms, a lost election takes on a whole new
meaning. It no longer means the pendulum is swing-
ing this way or that. It means it has stopped. We are
entering an age where democracy will no longer be a
grassroots thing. It will be completely underground.
Cotner can be reached
at coners@umich.edu

q
I

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

MoveOn concert was a
glorified campaign ad
TO THE DAILY:
Monday's front page story From Detroit
to K-Zoo, anti-Bush concerts rock Mich.
(10/04/04) about Sunday night's concert
contained the type of factual inaccuracy
that continually gives the Daily a bad rep.
The concerts were, in fact, as politically
charged as they could have been. MoveOn is
a 501 organization, a supposedly nonparti-
san advocacy group that is forbidden by law
to endorse a candidate. MoveOn is of course
as non-partisan as the Swift Boat Veterans
For Truth are, which is the underling prob-
lem with 501 groups.
While campaign finance reform may
have outlawed political parties' spending
unchecked sums of money to support a can-
didate or cause, 501s have stepped in to bas-
tardize the election process in their place.
Voters need to understand that by attending
the MoveOn concerts or donating to many
other "advocacy" groups, they are not sup-
porting Sen.. John Kerry or President Bush
Instead, they are perpetuating a political
system ruled by whomever can raise the
most money. Of course, I too would gladly
sacrifice my ideals for a chance to see the
Boss.
Dan Goshorn
LSA senior
Gay marriage ban will
likely cause more harm
than good
TO THE DAILY:
I am writing to you regarding a recent
story, Polls: Michigan likely to vote for gay
marriage ban (09/30/04). Supporters of Pro-
posal 2 state that it would ban gay marriage,
but according to the Coalition for a Fair
Michigan, "Several federal and state laws
already ban same-sex marriage in Michi-
gan," including the 1996 Defense of Mar-
riage Act, which defines marriage between
one man and one woman. According to the
National Conference of State Legislatures,
"States have traditionally recognized mar-
riages solemnized in other states, even
those that go against the marriage laws of

"It's not worth taking health care away from
even one child."
Although a federal constitutional amend-
ment banning same-sex marriage did not
pass, this is still on the ballot for Nov.. 2.
I urge voters in the state of Michigan to
consider the far-reaching implications of
this proposal and to vote against formaliz-
ing further discrimination against same-sex
couples and their dependents.
Same-sex marriage is already illegal;
why take away the only health care cover-
age some people have with an unnecessary
proposal?
Andi Charlton
The letter writer is a student in the School of
Public Health and the School of Social Work
Political pandering not
unique to John Kerry
TO THE DAILY:
I am writing in response to Sravya Chi-
rumamilla's disturbing column My litmus
test reads more acidic than alkaline 9/22/04.
In it, Chirumamilla calls Kerry a "pander-
er" whose policies are "misguided." Such
beliefs are the product of overexposure to
Bush propaganda (Chirumamilla recom-
mends that readers educate themselves at
www.georgewbush.com) and too little expo-
sure to valid information concerning Ker-
ry's policies. Kerry's plan to convene an
international summit will result in stronger
international relations and distribution of
the Iraqi burden. Kerry also plans to elimi-
nate tax loopholes that make it profitable for
American businesses to outsource.
These and other Kerry policies are not
"misguided;" they are precisely what Amer-
ica needs. Concerning pandering, Bush has
changed his political stances as much as,
if not more than Kerry. The following is
but one example of Bush "flip-flopping"
and pandering: In the spring of 2004, Bush,
contrary to his former position, allowed
Condoleeza Rice to testify in front of the
9/11 commission (a commission to which
the president was initially opposed). Kerry
and Bush are politicians. All politicians
change their stances. However, most are
not as intelligent as Kerry, and few have as
good an idea as he of the proper direction in
which America should be led. The past four
years of incompetent leadership and Thurs-

political views. This inflammatory headline
reduced Carl Pope's visit to a mudslinging
event between Democrats and Republicans.
While it is true that controversy sells, report-
ing the news is a responsibility that cannot
be taken lightly. Undeniably, Pope does
not approve of the current administration's
environmental record; yet it is also true
that Pope did not come to the University of
Michigan to talk about "liberals" and "con-
servatives." His lecture focused on issues
of professional concern for those of us who
have dedicated our careers to environmental
conservation and preservation.
Scott Foley, the undergraduate quoted
in the article, questioned Pope's credibility
based on the Sierra Club's endorsement of
Democratic presidential candidates. Foley
remarked, "I wouldn't take anything from
the Sierra Club as fact." Although comments
such as these are understandable given the
slant of Pope's discussion, what Foley fails
to recognize is that such claims constrict the
avenue of debate along partisan lines to the
point of near suffocation.
Intelligent leaders like Pope, Foley, and edi-
tors at the Daily should strive to raise the level
of debate in this election season, not stifle it.
Casting broad political labels only serves to
reduce the debate into inflammatory rhetoric
that is largely devoid of value. As voters, we
depend on the media for sound information
upon which political choices can be made. All
evidence suggests that the current administra-
tion has worked against 30 years of bipartisan
efforts to improve environmental quality in the
United States. This is not a partisan issue; it is
mere observation. We thus contend that both
Foley and the Daily missed the point.
Elijah Davidian
Kobi Platt
School of Natural Resources and Environment
LETTERS POLICY
The Michigan Daily welcomes
letters from all of its readers. Letters from
University students, faculty, staff and
administrators will be given priority over
others. Letters should includethe writer's
name, college and school year or other Uni-
versity affiliation. The Daily will not print
any letter containing statements that can-
not be verified.
Letters should be kept to approxi-
mael Inn-~ ~ wnr. ~The MVicb i n~n Dily

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