Monday, April 25, 2016

I VOTED? (2016) Tribeca 2016

I VOTED? is a look at the electronic ways American's vote today. It starts with an investigation into a primary win for complete unknown in South Carolina who did no campaigning and simply got his name on the ballot. It then spins off to reveal how basically all the electronic voting machines are shit, can be hacked (and can be made to play video games) and aren't worth the money. The film essentially is saying that democracy as we know it maybe doomed if we don't do something to fix it.

The danger of electronic voting has been well known. 25 years ago James and Kenneth Collier warned us of the great danger in their book VOTESCAM which was a prophetic foreshadowing of everything we see in I VOTED?.  The Colliers basically said that paper is the only way to go, and if you aren't going to do paper only the lever machines are close to safe beyond that.  However after the chad incident in the presidential election there was a rush to get to safer methods, which people stupidly thought meant electronic,  only to end up backing into the lion's den.

Jason Grant Smith's film will terrify anyone with any lick of sense. revealing just how fucked the machines are. We watch as wrong votes are cast, the machines are hacked, infected with a virus, and generally get it wrong. We also learn that most of the machines being used in the country have no way of recounting. If it all goes wrong there is no paper trail, not even a pretend one. We have to live with the corrupted choices because there is no way to see if and where there are mistakes. Worse yet is the revelation that people operating the machines have no clue about them.

Smith blames all sorts of people, from the manufacturers who made machines that were out of date but which would give them maximum profit, to the federal government which gave out scads of money on a one time basis before they worked out how the machines should operate. Everyone spent the money bought machines before any standards had been adopted. Now the money is gone, there are no standards and it would be too costly to get rid of them.

Our only hope would be to go back to paper ballots- which the US government insists on using  around the world in the elections we monitor- is the only way to have a fair and honest election. Paper they tell the world is the only way to get a fair election (For the record US elections don't meet the high standard for honest elections that we insist for the countries we monitor)

A timely and important film this is a must see- which should have gotten more play at the festival and several more screenings beyond the single one it got.

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