Touch Screen Voting Machines, Independent Testing Authorities, Optical Scanning Machines, Memory Cards with Executable Programme Software… This compelling HBO documentary investigation into the vulnerability to error, manipulation or untraceable vote rigging of America’s new generation of electronic voting systems – coming soon to a polling booth near you! – involves enough jargon to make the ‘hanging’ and ‘pregnant’ chad rumpus of 2000 seem quite quaint. The central Erin Brockovich-like campaigner here is comforting grandma Bev Harris, a literary agent who co-founded advocacy group Black Box Voting in 2001, concerned by a Florida County voting mechanism that registered 16,000 negative votes for Al Gore in the previous year’s Presidential election. ‘Hacking Democracy’ follows her group’s endeavours to prise open the secrecy surrounding the private ‘vendors’ of the equipment, garnering machine code and passwords from the internet, obtaining signed ‘voter tapes’ from pan-American garbage heists, employing security hackers and enlisting Congressmen and Senators in their efforts to expose this threat to democracy. As a movie, it may be structurally unsophisticated, but the questions it raises are fundamental.
Friday April 20 2007
Simon Adizzone, Russell Michaels