Historically, American political parties have been coalition parties, not ideological parties. In a big diverse country, geographic and cultural factors are too big for the narrowness of ideology. The most obvious example is on the American Left where the moonbats of the upper Midwest are agrarian and populist, while their coreligionists back in New England are more aristocratic and exclusive.
The parties are, of course, ideologically tilted. The Democrats have largely become the Progressive party. They still have elements outside the One True Faith, but that’s diminishing. The GOP is just everyone else, a mash up of normal people either rejected by the Progressives or disgusted by them. Calling the modern Republican Party “right-wing” is absurd, but it is certainly not a Progressive party.
This difference in ideological purity is reflected in how they handle defeat. When Republicans lose, their constituents blame the party leaders for being idiots or lazy or corrupt. The leaders will blame their voters for being stubborn purists who stayed home to pout rather than fight the Democrats. Failure in the GOP is a time for recriminations and finger pointing.
The Democrats, however, go for conspiracy. When their guy loses, it’s the result of a global cabal run by the Koch Brothers, Mega Corp and the Bush Family. In 2000 and 2004, they swore the voting machine maker was a Republican operative, rigging the machines via software to thwart the efforts of the One True Faith to defeat the class traitor George Bush. In 2010 and 2014, the culprit was racist bad thinkers scaring voters about the threat posed by Obama, because racism.
One of the ways to tell if the the One True Faith is glum about its election prospect is to see if they are out hunting for conspiracies to blame for their looming defeat. This story in Wired on the state of election machines suggests they are gearing up to blame the machines for what’s coming in 2016.
As the US presidential election season heats up, the public has focused on the candidates vying for the nation’s top office. But whether Donald Trump will secure the Republican nomination is secondary to a more serious quandary: whether the nation’s voting machines will hold up when Americans head to the polls in 2016.
Nearly every state is using electronic touchscreen and optical-scan voting systems that are at least a decade old, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law (.pdf). Beyond the fact the machines are technologically antiquated, after years of wear and tear, states are reporting increasing problems with degrading touchscreens, worn-out modems for transmitting election results, and failing motherboards and memory cards.
States using machines that are at least 15 years old include Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, which means they are far behind even a casual tech user in keeping pace with technological advancements.
The ancient Greeks managed to hold elections with lots, but now we’re supposed to believe that we need the latest technology or the whole thing falls to pieces. That’s not really what they’re saying of course. The whole election machine meme is part of the larger narrative where the One True Faith is not really rejected by the people. It’s all a misunderstanding along with actions by nefarious forces allied with Halliburton.
One of the most serious problems with aging machines is they are prone to crashes and screen freezes, which can lead to long lines at polling stations and disenfranchised voters who leave without casting ballots.
“We have had motherboards go down—in essence the voting machine just stops working on Election Day because the motherboard is dead,” Joe Rozell, director of elections in Oakland County, Michigan, told the Brennan Center about his aging optical-scan machines.
In 2013, New Mexico was having similar problems with the memory cards used with optical-scan machines it purchased in 2006. “As the machines got older, they had more and more functionality issues,” Maggie Toulouse Oliver, the county clerk in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, told the authors. “In particular there was a high failure rate for memory cards. It got so bad that we had to replace one-third of machines in every election.”
Some election officials have resorted to scouring eBay for decommissioned equipment they can cannibalize for parts.
Even more important are reliability and integrity issues with malfunctioning machines that fail to record votes, or record votes improperly. Numerous voting districts have reported calibration problems over the years with electronic touchscreen voting machines seemingly “flipping” votes—that is, recording a vote for a different candidate than the one the voter selected onscreen.
The federal government is well aware of the problem of aging machines. In January 2014, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration issued a report (.pdf) warning of an “impending crisis … from the widespread wearing out of voting machines purchased a decade ago.” But so far, lawmakers have done nothing to remedy the situation.
The voting machine story is a lot like the homeless problem. It’s only a problem when the wrong people are in charge. When the good people are in charge, we hear nothing about these things. In both cases, the problem exists because the Cult insisted we go away from what worked for generations in favor of some new thing. The old lever machines worked just fine and were very hard to rig. But, they kept recording the wrong votes as far as the Cult was concerned so here we are.