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1, 2, 3, VOTE! (And cross your fingers) 

We’re two years away from the big one
We’re two years away from the big one. And two weeks ago some disaster-preparedness types in Congress were planning an election-year escape route for Democracy, should she once again find herself atop a burning Hill trapped by the advancing flames of partisan passions, clutching only sterling possessions (the Fifteenth and Nineteenth amendments; a pinup of mustache model and Congressman John “Bush stole the 2004 election” Conyers; a Navajo blanket valued at $350,000 on Antiques Roadshow).

Congress’s election-reform advocates want to make sure states count your vote on what could be one of the hottest and windiest Tuesdays of 2008. Their plan? Anyone who’s lived through a disaster will tell you, the first thing you do … unplug the appliances.

A handful of House Reps, including Texans Sheila Jackson-Lee and Eddie Bernice Johnson, introduced a bill to beef up the Help America Vote Act of 2002 and require paper ballots in the presidential election. And allow for hand counting. (Sounds like someone’s aide finally summarized a “Hack the Vote” study.)

So take heart, Bexar County, as you futz around with the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting machine this election (the same equipment that scrambled Indiana voters choices in their May primary — the Nebraska-based company agreed to a $750,000 settlement. The machines’ audit logs froze in 2004 when notorious Miami-Dade County turned to ES&S for redemption after the hanging-chad fiasco. The resulting “irregularities” there and in two other heavily Democratic Florida counties made possible by e-Votes — not paper votes — delivered Bush another win. Lest the problems in the Sunshine and Hoosier states sound too distant, consider: In 2004, a Tarrant County election programmer said ES&S pressured officials to install unapproved software at the last minute, without proper certification. This year, Tarrant County used Hart InterCivic machines, which counted some ballots as much as six times in the March primary, recording 100,000 more votes than were cast. Despite glitches and what effectively amounts to a whistleblower warning about vendors and election fraud, the only vote-tampering prosecutions we get in Texas involve a dozen Democrats handling absentee ballots for some homebound elderly. (Hey, Attorney General Greg Abbott! Thanks for the selective prosecution.).

If you can make the effort to vote, you can go to the trouble of writing whatever bauble-head takes office and ask them to support HR 6200 and a paper trail — or even outfit machines with printers! For chrissake, think of Democracy, trembling over her battery-powered radio, waiting for someone to broadcast that important emergency message, “We’re counting the votes. Get over it.”

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