... from the Campaign Trail ...
WHITEYGATE Reveals Serious Problems With Black-Box Voting Machines
Brandon Punke, Communications Director Whitney for Governor
Doug Dobmeyer, Deputy Communications Director
Rich Whitney for Governor 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 15, 2010
Carbondale, IL Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney issued the following statement today regarding the ballot issue in Chicago:
On October 12, we learned from an early voter in Chicago that there was a problem with the early voting machines. He cast his ballot for me, Rich Whitney, Green Party candidate for Governor. My name was spelled correctly on the first screen, but when it went to the review screen, my name appeared as Rich Whitey, with the letter n missing. At the review screen, any voter who was confused or troubled by the thought of voting for Rich Whitey, then had an option to change his/her vote.
As a result of this ghastly mistake, I very likely have lost some votes. And at this writing, I may still be losing more votes from early voters until this problem is corrected. More importantly, the rights of voters to cast a ballot in favor of the candidate of their choice, without interference, has now been compromised.
This is unacceptable, especially in a race as critical to the future of our state as this governors race.
I can appreciate and understand the humorous aspect of this, which has captured the imagination of some of the media. Believe me, at a time like this, you have to take time out to enjoy a good laugh. I especially liked the quip from a blogger who wrote that most of the Democratic and Republican candidates could be labeled rich whitey and it would save voters a lot of time.
By all means, enjoy the humor. But do not let it distract you from the serious issues raised by this incident, which demand real answers, real accountability and real remedies.
I appreciate the apology and effort by Chicago Election Board Chairman Langdon Neal to address the problem as quickly as possible. But there are still numerous questions unanswered and serious concerns that should trouble all Illinois voters of all political persuasions:
The Board was slow to respond to this and we were given changing stories about the scope of the problem, first being told that it was limited to a number of wards, then being told it was City-wide.
Mr. Neal attributed the error to a Toronto-based private contractor known as Dominion Voting, probably the largest single provider of electronic voting machines in the nation. This once again raises the specter of Black Box voting. Why is something as vital to our society as the integrity of the vote being left to a private, for-profit contractor? This underscores the problems with the whole trend toward privatization of essential public functions, which I have criticized as a candidate. One of the most important functions of government the integrity of our vote, making sure that people can cast an accurate ballot and have it counted accurately should not be left to a private, for-profit firm that has a profit incentive to cut costs and cut corners. We should not be relying on electronic voting machines that are hackable, unreliable and depend on proprietary software that election officials are not privy to.
We in the Green Party have already been in the forefront of the fight for ballot integrity. We want election authorities to use durable, verifiable paper ballots only. The current incident is but the latest of a long list of problems arising from the use of such electronic voting machines, with the programming left to private firms that are not fully accountable to the public. This is the same problem that led to the probably stolen national elections of 2000 and 2004, and countless problems with Black Box voting documented on sites like blackboxvoting.org, blackboxvoting.com and bradblog.com.
Whiteygate has not only cost me votes, apparently with no recourse to recover them. It raises serious questions about the integrity of the entire vote for Illinois and whether anyone's votes are going to be accurately cast and accurately counted.
This incident can only be the result of two things: A deliberate act or gross negligence. Either way, it is absolutely unacceptable. In suggesting a possible intentional act, we are not accusing anyone of a conspiracy. In fact, it would only take one or two maliciously motivated individuals to sabotage voting machines (which is part of the problem), not a conspiracy. But the fact is that the Green Party has been the victim of hostile acts by election authorities before. In both the 2008 and 2010 primaries, we had to deal with the problem of the Democratic Party ballots being printed on green card stock which led to people requesting a Green ballot being handed a Democratic Party ballot. We also ran into problems in a number of precincts where election judges claimed not to know about any Green Party primary, and/or hid the ballots from public view. In sum, we have good reason to be suspicious.
The other possibility is gross negligence and that points back to the problem of privatization of public functions generally. Again, a private, for-profit firm has a profit incentive to cut costs and cut corners. How hard could it have been to proofread the ballot screens and test the machines before putting them out for use?
There is still more work to do on this issue. We are weighing legal options, considering that I, and the voters, have almost certainly lost votes that cannot be recovered. We still need answers to some questions: Who was responsible? How did this happen? Why weren't the ballot review screens proofread? Was this intentional or gross negligence? Where was the public oversight?
Rich Whitney is a 55-year-old civil rights and employment lawyer from Carbondale. As a lawyer, he has fought for working people who have lost their jobs or had their rights violated. A founder of the Illinois Green Party, he has long been politically active in support of the labor, health-care reform, environmental, civil rights, and peace movements. In 2006, he served as the Green Partys first candidate for Governor, winning over 360,000 votes and making it possible for Illinois voters to have a third choice on the ballot statewide.
For candidate interview requests please contact Brandon Punke at 618-434-0046 or Doug Dobmeyer at 312-315-6887.