One person, one vote. Count the totals. The one with the most wins. The beauty of democracy is its simplicity and its inherent fairness. It equalises everyone, even as it empowers everyone. What could go wrong? In America, it turns out, quite a lot.
Everyone remembers the debacle in Florida, 2000. The recounts, the law suits and the eventual deciding of a presidential election - not by the voters - but by the Supreme Court. The memory still causes a collective shudder to America's body politic.
Which makes the fact that America's system of voting is now even more suspect, more complicated, and more open to abuse than ever before so utterly shocking. Across the country a bewildering series of scandals or dubious practises are proliferating beyond control. The prospect of a 'second Florida' is now more likely not less. There are many - and not all of them are conspiracy theorists - who believed it may have happened in Ohio in 2004.
This week the venerable New York Times was the latest of many organisations and institutions to declare that America's democratic system is simply starting to fail. Not in terms of its democratic ideals, or some takeover by a Neocon cabal, but by a simple collapse in its ability to count everyone's votes accurately and fairly. The Times is editorialising on a shocking government report into electoral rules in Ohio's biggest county, Cuyahoga, which contains the city of Cleveland. It details a litany of errors and a large discrepancy between the paper record of a ballot and the result recorded by the new Diebold electronic voting machines the county has just installed....
3 years ago