When The Black Box Beast
Ate Our Democracy

That's the problem, we don't read BARCODE! 

...and that is an existential threat to all democracies worldwide, a dark corruption, and a sinister plot to rip the fundamental rights and duties of a developed civilization from the hands of the most vulnerable. The vicious beast of American exceptionalism (or exclusionism) has left evidence of its racist claw marks all over our metaphorical “collective consensus;” our county-level voting machines.

It is bad enough that the 231 million voting-aged citizens of the US (the world’s $4 trillion dollar defender of democracy) can’t be bothered to muster more than a 47% voter turnout. If “I Don’t Care!” was a presidential candidate, it would be tweeting at us from the Oval Office toilet instead of Trump.

But the beast’s savagery is being felt locally; as Dr. Carol Anderson of Emory University in South Carolina appearing on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, calls out; “these new voting machines... are like Jim Crow 3.0!” If you doubt race is a key factor in voter suppression, check out the Emmy Award-nominated documentary “Fraction Magic” demonstrating a back-door utility discovered shifting whole number votes into fractions! As in 2-tenths, or 3-fifths a vote, let that sink in.

It is a bittersweet irony, that as North Carolina celebrates the 60th anniversary of the historic sit-in by the Greensboro-Four, modern-day Machiavellian moves are being made by for-profit voting machine vendors, good-ole-boy committees, and other guardians of the southern-style status-quo. But Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Reverend, and President of the North Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NC NAACP) aren’t falling for the sales-pitch by Election Systems and Software (ES&S). A historic fight over hand-marked paper ballots, advocated by Dr. Spearman and the NC NAACP, along with college students, computer scientists, and election security experts have erupted in Guilford County, the home of the historic Woolworth that sparked the civil-rights sit-ins.

During multiple vendor demonstrations to election officials, the press and public, ES&S representatives have been deceptively pushing their ExpressVote system. Of the three vendors (ES&S, Clear Ballot, and Hart InterCivic), the ES&S's ExpressVote is uniquely qualified as a Ballot Marking Device, in that a touch-screen collects the voter’s choices, and spits out on a thin receipt which the sales-reps misleadingly refer to as a “ballot.” A real ballot must list the options of candidates and measures presented to the voter as well as their choice, the ExpressVote’s receipt doesn’t meet that basic criterion. BTW, The ExpressVote also encodes the voter’s choices into a BARCODE.

A separate machine (DS200) digitally scans this receipt and supposedly tabulates the voter’s will. Though the selections are printed in English on the receipt, there’s no telling what the barcode says. And once the scan is completed by the DS200, there is no confirmation provided as the so-called “ballot” is counted and then deposited into a locked box, no way to know if the barcode correctly conveyed the voter’s will from the ExpressVote machine to the DS200, All you get is a “thank you for voting screen.” Now that’s scary.

All the computer scientists, all the election security advocates, and all the people who came to the Board of Election meetings and were allowed to voice their opinion agree; hand-marked paper ballots are the only way to go to ensure election integrity. Guilford County is going to take up the issue again in the early days of October. With 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans, the battle against the black box beast may get ugly. As John R. Brakey of AuditUSA says “It is crucial that the loser of the coming election knows that he lost, as much as it is important for the winner to know that they’ve won.” Hand-marked paper ballots would provide the evidence we need in the likely event of a recount.