Does the US want a back door into other nation’s elections?
Someone had to say it. So I will.
The United States has been cheerleading the concept of concealed vote counting round the world in a most unhealthy way, unless it is sham democracy we are really after.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before congress in glowing terms regarding India’s e-voting system, yet these opaque electronic voting machines conceal key election processes from the public, putting control into the hands of government insiders — hardly democratic, and in India’s corruption-prone environment, downright dangerous.
Despite Clinton’s earlier assurances, Indian e-voting machines have recently succumbed to manipulation by a team of researchers. Here’s what one of them had to say about India’s e-voting system:
"I’ve studied electronic voting machines for years, but I’ve never had such a strong sense that actual fraud might be taking place. There have been dozens of reports from around India that politicians have been approached by engineers offering to manipulate the machines to steal votes. My Indian coauthor, Hari Prasad, was himself approached by a prominent party and asked to help them with
such manipulations! … there are probably a million people in India with the necessary electronics skills. — Alex Halderman, one of a team of researchers who proved the Indian machines can be used to illicitly control election outcomes.
Is it that certain US leaders are woefully uninformed, or might it be that there are some in high positions who discreetly believe that elections must be controllable? ("If necessary.")
At least one US leader believed just that. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was so appalled at the prospect of a democratic Chilean election installing a president of whom he disapproved that he said, "I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people."
Henry Kissinger, June 27, 1970
To paraphrase journalist William Blum, there’s one thing the United States hates more than an international leader deemed politically undesirable, and that is a democratically ELECTED politically undesirable leader.
Depite successive US expenditures to control the Chilean election, Salvador Allende was democratically elected in 1970. Kissinger subsequently began lining up support for a military coup.
According to the CIA, the US had no vital national interests within Chile. The world military balance of power would not have been significantly altered by an Allende government. But according to Kissinger, Chile was a virus that would infect the world with its ideological platform.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THE CURRENT US PRO E-VOTING STANCE?
With every e-voting system ever examined succumbing to multiple election-control attacks, and when no reputable computer scientist will claim that a concealed computerized system can be secured against insiders (like government custodians and the vendors they select), enthusiasm by US leaders for such systems is getting hard to explain without a bit of skepticism.
Tidier than involvement in a coup, and less expensive than investing in enough propaganda to thwart a democratic election, e-voting has now proven to provide the opportunity for a "Plan B." If desired. In case it’s necessary.
Now, before you tell me that you believe no such ulterior motive need be involved, let me just say: It’s not acceptable for national leaders to pretend that a counting process which is concealed from the public should be trusted.
They should know better. What I am suggesting is that some of them DO know better.
E-VOTING IN ESTABLISHED AND DEVELOPING WORLD DEMOCRACIES
Germany has banned its e-voting system, deeming it unconstitutional because it conceals essential election processes from the public. E-voting systems have also been banned in Ireland and the Netherlands.
Nigeria, while struggling mightily with basic democratic concepts like freedom of information and the private ballot, decided this week to ban e-voting for 2011 elections in favor of privately voted paper ballots, hand counted in public.
The Philippines are currently experiencing a meltdown in their own Smartmatic e-voting system, with a last-minute recall of 76,000 memory cards. The Philippine election organization, called COMELEC, should perhaps change its name to COMEDIC, except that the impact on democracy in the Philippines is but a comedy.
After Philippine memory cards were found to be miscounting votes, unable to get enough more in time, the Philippines then decided to obtain some 40,000 potentially election-controlling memory cards from foreign countries (primarily Taiwan and Hong Kong). Then — pretending all was well, nothing to worry about — they had them couriered all over the country in helicopters provided by
According to University of Michigan research Alex Halderman, "… Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Malaysia, Singapore, Namibia, South Africa and Sri Lanka are using or considering adopting systems like India’s."
Rejected e-voting systems from Allen County Indiana were scheduled to be shipped to Africa for deployment.
CITIZENS SPEAKING OUT
The anti e-voting activism movement is rapidly expanding internationally, with concerned citizens from India, buttressed by experienced democracy advocates from Germany and the USA now communicating daily on an excellent listserve called Election Transparency Worldwide. (GoogleGroups).
Yet while citizens easily grasp the idea that you don’t have a democracy without public elections — the key word being PUBLIC — and that you don’t have public elections when government insiders control essential processes in concealment, many national leaders pretend not to understand these fundamental concepts. They
continue to claim that the machines are "tamperproof", "safe", and deserving of "confidence."
True democratic systems, of course, are not built on trusting government insiders, but on DISTRUST, with the delineating factor between a true democratic system and a false one being public controls.
As the German high court decision stated, every essential step of public elections must be something the public can see and authenticate, without need for special expertise.
It remains to be seen whether key US leaders wish to export real democracy, or a pseudo-democratic system which can be controlled "if needed."
Some may say they have a point. But WE have a right to trot that out in public for an open debate.
We ordinary mortals can stubbornly alter the conversational terrain to discuss what is a true democratic system and what is psuedo-democracy. We can expose the hidden agenda opportunity if our leaders try to sell us on systems that provide them with a Plan B. "If necessary."