CommunityPam's House Blend

Glitches my ass!

Glitches, glitches, we’re beset by glitches!

WASHINGTON (AP) — Voters put the Republican congressional majority and a multitude of new voting equipment to the test Tuesday in an election that defined the balance of power for the rest of George W. Bush’s presidency.

About a third of voters were using new equipment, and problems in several states were reported right out of the gate. The government deployed a record number of poll watchers to the many competitive races across the country.

Glitches delayed balloting in dozens of Indiana and Ohio precincts, and Illinois officials were swamped with calls from voters complaining that poll workers did not know how to operate new electronic equipment.

In Delaware County, Indiana, officials planned to seek a court order to extend voting after an apparent computer error prevented voters from casting ballots in 75 precincts.

Florida officials, working to avoid a repeat of the vote-counting debacle of 2000, fielded extra voting machines, paper ballots and poll workers.

In the Jacksonville suburb of Orange Park, Florida, voters were forced to use paper ballots after an electronic machine broke.

Glitches my ass! First of all, a “glitch” or “bug” is an unexpected result of poor software coding. These “bugs” are often uncovered by computer scientists when impartial, peer-reviewed tests are run on the software. That’s not allowed on voting machines, however, as the software is all proprietary – a secret – and no one but the voting machine company is allowed to inspect it.

Second of all, when you have “glitches”, they usually behave in a predictable manner. For example, maybe every time I run a particular spreadsheet and do a particular action, the machine freezes up. However, the speadsheet doesn’t take a “500” I typed into cell A5 and turn it into a “5000” typed into cell B6. That is to say, “glitches” and “bugs” usually cause an application to fail, they don’t cause an application to work perfectly yet manipulate data incorrectly.

When touch screen voting machines take a straight party line vote and convert it into a straight party line vote for the other party, that might be a “glitch”. If they only convert Democrat straight tickets to Republican, but never the other way around, that’s not a “glitch”, that’s purposeful design.

I’m still amazed that the citizenry hasn’t risen up and demanded paper trails with the fervor found at a midnight pre-Christmas sale at Macy’s. Even the average Joe who doesn’t know a microchip from a tortilla chip has two basic experiences with computers: 1) an ATM machine that’s never incorrect and always gives a paper receipt, and 2) a Windows PC that often locks up, has to be rebooted, and loses important data. That should be enough to teach him that 1) computers can be reliable and auditable, and 2) computers can’t be trusted. Either conclusion should cause a demand for paper trail voting.

Maybe most people just think their vote really doesn’t matter. The corporations bought and sold this country years ago, and their votes are the only ones that count. Well, sure, let the corporations control counting the vote and those people are absolutely correct.

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