Thursday, February 01, 2007

Lobbyists for HAVA and evoting

The Black Box Voting folks have been looking into who specifically did all the lobbying to get the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) passed (which basically mandates electronic voting) and seem to be a little surprised at what they have found.

"While many election reform activists are under the impression that touch-screen (DRE) voting machines were some sort of Republican plot to take over America, the truth is that lobbying for the DRE-seeking "Help America Vote Act" came primarily from the foundation of the Democratic Party itself.

Activists throughout America have expressed surprise at the Democratic Party's unwillingness to pull DREs off the shelf. One reason is simply this: To do so would damage the credibility of those who lobbied for HAVA. And those who lobbied for HAVA just happen to be the biggest funders and activist workhorses for the Democratic Party itself...


1. Public interest groups - mostly progressive
2. Labor unions
3. Minority rights groups
4. Disability rights groups
5. Industry

Of these, the first four tend to favor Democrats but the fifth group -- industry, the group charged with writing the computer code that counts America's votes -- is made of of vendors that are more often close to the Republican Party.

Democrats lobbied HAVA in but to a large extent, Republican-affiliated vendors executed the mechanics of the plan. Some would call this comical; others, tragic."

These stories rarely involve a simple conspiracy on the part of an easily identifiable set of bad guys though the situation could be argued to contain its fair share of those. More often than not it is a complex mess of people, organisations, issues, situations and agendas leading to a series of decisions with, as the electronic voting scenario in the US aptly demonstrates, a less than optimum outcome.

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