In the wake of a Capitol Hill sex scandal that needs no introduction, and in the midst of the downward spiral that is Iraq, it\’s looking like midterm elections could be a sweep for the Democrats.
The latest USA Today Gallup Poll proves what a lethal blow former Rep. Mark Foley’s, R-Fla., profoundly inappropriate conduct — and the suspected cover-up — was to the right wing. The deadlock that existed between Republicans and Democrats has swung, giving the left a 23-point advantage. As USA Today so helpfully points out, that’s twice the edge the Republicans boasted in 1994 when they won back Congress.
According to the same poll, Bush’s approval rating is down 7 percent and Congress’s approval rating has dipped a relatively modest five points. With incontrovertible reports that the situation in Iraq is, in fact, a disaster, it would appear that the GOP’s stock is down.
But 26 days is a long time, and in an election in which so much is at stake — regardless of one’s political perspective — it’s important to keep just that: perspective.
Let’s turn to Florida’s 24th district, where Clint Curtis, a former lifelong Republican-turned-whistleblower-turned Democrat is attempting to oust Republican Rep. Tom Feeney. In 2004, Curtis testified to the Ohio House Committee on the Judiciary that Feeney, while speaker of the Florida House in 2000, asked him to write a program to override the votes on touch-screen voting machines. Curtis said Feeney wanted to be able to flip the outcome to 51-49 in favor of the candidate of his choice. At the time, Curtis was a computer programmer at Yang Enterprises, where Feeney served as general counsel; Feeney was then, as now, a staunch Bush supporter .
Whatever you believe Curtis\’s motives to be, he underscores an important point: The technology to change votes does exist and is undetectable in electronic voting machines. Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy recently released a study that found Diebold machines to be extremely susceptible to tampering, malicious software and just plain-old system malfunctions (40,000 people were unable to vote in San Diego during the 2004 election, when Diebold machines crashed).
CITP found that the two most common electronic voting machines in the country — both Diebold models — would be the only means of voting for 10 percent of the nation’s voting public. CNN posted the statistic that eight out of every 10 voters will be using some brand of touch-screen voting machine this November. That includes some Californians.
Luckily, Diebold machines will not be used in Ventura County, but Secretary of State Bruce McPherson recertified the machines (previously decertified in the state) earlier this year, despite overwhelming evidence of the machine’s flaws.
In 2000, thousands of voters were disenfranchised throughout the state of Florida. Exit polls, considered a sound science, were at stark odds with the “official” tallied outcomes in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida during the 2004 presidential race; one specialist put the odds of this happening randomly at one in 660,000.
We’ve done an admirable job at mustering up outrage at the Foley scandal. Many of us have focused our rage at the war in Iraq. Let\’s keep this sense of moral indignation going, and see if we can\’t monitor this next race more closely.
As President Bush is always reminding us: remain vigilant.