Friday, March 26, 2010

Election Officials in Kentucky Found Guilty of Election Fraud, Vote Buying

The Bradblog has been doing some stellar work on this issue. Here’s is an excerpt from their latest story.

Convicted high-ranking officials include a circuit court judge, county clerk and school superintendent.

Each face up to 20 years in broad conspiracy that included manipulation of electronic voting machines...

All eight defendants in Clay County, Kentucky's election fraud trial have been found guilty today by a federal jury. Six of those eight were high-ranking election officials, including the county clerk, a circuit judge and the school superintendent. The conspirators were charged with having manipulated federal elections in 2002, 2004 and 2006 by buying and selling votes and manipulating electronic voting machines.

According to AP, each of the now-convicted felons could face up to 20 years in prison for what prosecutors had described as a conspiracy to manipulate elections for decades in the rural, heavily Republican county.

The BRAD BLOG has been following this story since the conspirators were originally arrested in March of last year, and as details of the election officials' manipulation of ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting machines has emerged.

Supporters of unverifiable electronic voting, such as election officials and voting machines companies, had long argued that, though manipulation of such systems was possible, nobody had actually ever done so. While that dubious argument was difficult to independently verify one way or another --- since the private vendors make public oversight of such systems virtually impossible by blocking citizen inspection and oversight of such systems due to claims of "trade secrecy" --- the denialists arguments are no longer valid.

Furthermore, the verdict underscores what many critics of e-voting have long argued: the greatest security threat to such systems come from election insiders, not from the voting public and dubious claims of "voter fraud".

I just do not understand the motivations of people like this, who are actually elected officials that are sworn to uphold the laws of the land. It doesn’t matter what they, as individuals, actually think of these laws. That is immaterial. That is not a consideration. They are sworn to uphold the laws of the land, and anything less is unethical, hypocritical, and more importantly, illegal. How do people like this sleep at night?

This occurred in an extremely conservative part of Kentucky. Did these people really believe that their party was really in danger of losing control? I seriously doubt that would have happened. So, what is the motivation here? I just don’t get it. They can’t play the game without cheating? Is it that much a part of their psyche that they can’t abide by the rules if it means there is even a .001% chance of them losing? Sorry, but this sounds a lot like what used to happen in the Soviet Bloc countries or South American countries run by dictators.

It’s difficult not to resort to generalities on an issue like this. By that I mean, it’s difficult not to come out and state that Republicans are all a bunch of crooks who are only motivated by winning at any and all costs, even to the extent of fraud. They apparently just do not understand that what they are doing has absolutely no place in a true democracy. So, in all fairness, I will try to not make that leap from “these specific individuals” to the much larger category of All Republicans. But, given the things we are seeing these days, it is extremely difficult.

As this story in the Bradblog brings up, there are much bigger issues here than just what motivates a small band of elected officials to commit crimes just so they would be able to rest assured that their party would “win.” This has all sorts of implications about electronic voting machines in general, with their untraceable voting records and with ease by which those results can be manipulated. It also calls into question our society’s general assumption that our elected officials will actually act in an impartial manner and administer the laws of the land evenly handedly, even if that goes against their personal beliefs. Those kinds of basic assumptions for a society based on a system of laws seem to be going out the window at a frightening pace these days.

As I stated earlier, I am finding it very difficult not to attribute these kinds of beliefs that these individuals seem to have regarding democracy to the larger Republican Party. Or perhaps, just the “tea party” wing of the conservative movement, if that makes anyone feel any better. In truth, even though I disagree with most of their positions on issues, I cannot see someone like the two Republican senators from Maine, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, endorsing such actions. But frankly, I wouldn’t put it past some other Republican members of Congress. But the tea party set? Yeah, it is an unfortunate fact that I totally believe that a large group of people who think that President Obama is a Muslim and wants to overthrown the United States in the name of Islam also believe that they should do anything in their power, be it legal or illegal, to achieve their goals, no matter the cost.

This is really a scary time for the United States of America. I would say “fascinating”, but that would only be true if we knew what the ultimate outcome will be.

No comments: