Well, that was exciting: I just got back from my polling place and cast my vote via electronic machine…quick, easy, painless. There was a line, but that was good considering this morning’s prediction that voter turnout in California will be light. The pundits are suggesting that since Schwarzenegger is a likely winner, voters won’t turn out. Me, I don’t think so. There are so many other things at stake here, including control of Congress that I suspect turnout will be strong, despite the “top of the ticket” being a blow out for Arnold.

There has been a lot of hype about the use of touch screens. Recall that they became vogue after the “hanging chads” of Florida fame. San Diego had its own stint with election stank following the Donna Frye write-in campaign (remember the “bubble” votes). And so, the touch screen systems became, for most, a better, more accurate method of recording your vote. Unfortunately, the use of technology has prompted the “black helicopter crowd” to cry foul suggesting, for example, that election workers, who take the machines home for a slumber party pre-election day, are manipulating the computer innards to favor candidates (never mind that 99 percent of all financial transactions these days are done using technology…with few questions asked).

I sit on the city of San Diego’s Election Task Force and one of the collateral benefits of looking at methods of voting here in SD (like “mail-only ballots” and “instant run-off voting”) are the numerous e-mails about potential for voter fraud as a result of the use of technology.

One of the more common refrains is that Diebold machines are inaccurate and that they can be manipulated to prefer certain candidates over another. Despite a lack of proof backing up that claim, the use of these machines stalled awaiting an improved electronic voting product, one that records your vote on a paper ballot. So, like a check out register, I reviewed my votes via recorded receipt and went away confident that Diebold won’t skew the election to their preferred slate of candidates.

It does beg the question, though: Will the losers in today’s elections, particularly in close races, claim that voter fraud via technology was the cause of the loss, not the campaign, the candidate, the message, the whatever? We heard it again in the Primary Election here in San Diego in the Bilbray – Busby race. I suspect, since voter fraud has been a frequent mantra of the losing side since the beginning of elections, we will hear more of the same…I wonder, today, if it will be Republicans crying foul should the House make a left turn. We’ll see…

– CRAIG BENEDETTO

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