In defense of not voting

Harper’s Magazine this month has a spirited defense in favor of not voting: Try to imagine, if you can, candidate Barack Obama in 2008 running on a platform of balancing the budget and appeasing Wall Street by reducing Social Security benefits, restricting Medicare and Medicaid entitlements, increasing the retirement age, and never challenging the established hierarchy of the Democratic Party but rather returning members of the old Clinton regime to positions of power in his administration, especially those advocates of unregulated capitalism who did so much to bring on the economic crisis in the first place.

Boris Johnson is mayor of London. Or is he?

The UK recently held an election for Mayor of London. Boris Johnson, a Tory crackpot, got elected. Or did he? The election was counted electronically. It turns out that monitoring screens mostly showed meaningless data, most observers were unable to observe the votes being counted, the company set up to run the election says the machines were probably counting blank ballots, and nobody has been allowed to audit the software.


Another interesting flaw has been discovered in the Diebold paperless voting machines used in many US states. The Diebold machines are supposedly secure because they run software from an EPROM, software that has been independently audited and certified for use by election board officials. Except it turns out that if you change a single jumper inside the machine, it will boot any code you care to supply on a standard flash memory card instead.

In case you missed it

The source code for the Diebold touch-screen voting systems being installed in the US was accidentally left on an unprotected FTP server. It turns out that there’s a back door in the code, and it’s trivial to tamper with the results.

Prepare to bang head on wall

Daschle thinks the Democrats lost the elections because they weren’t similar enough to the Republicans, and that they’d do better if they were the party of Iraq wars and tax cuts.