A huge effort is going on nationwide to update and replace our aging voting technology. Some machines still in use were originally designed in the 1940s and 50s with the latest technology then available, such as “gears” and “levers.” Most other voting machines date to the “space age” 1960s, an era when American scientists with sophisticated computers used punch cards containing millions of “chads” to calculate the velocity at which the “astronauts” would go into a “trajectory” that would land them on the “moon.” However, by the time scientists had finished counting and recounting chads, the astronauts had already planted their flag, returned from Tranquility Base, and begun doing TV endorsements for “Tang” and “Teflon.”
Fortunately, rather than wasting space-age technology, NASA was able to sell all its old computers to Florida, to use to count votes. These punch card machines are still only middle-aged, as far as voting technology goes, but because of the minor problems that occurred in the last presidential election, the Federal Government and many states are committed to spending hundreds of millions of dollars that they don’t have on upgrading voting machines.
Surely there are many better uses for these hundreds of millions of dollars that we don’t have. For example, we urgently need at least that much every week or so just to repair leaks in Dick Cheney’s Vice Presidential Oil Pipeline in Iraq.
The answer to our election problems is simple: The Votemobile.
Here’s how the Votemobile system would work: Instead of buying 51 completely new sets of voting machines, (one for every state, and a spare set for Florida, just in case), our country needs to invest in just two fleets of Votemobiles. Each Votemobile would be a polling place on wheels, which could be hauled around the country by semi-trucks. Armadas of Votemobiles could sweep through the country just like the circus, or The Rolling Stones on tour. Votemobile Carnival sites would be set up in every city on the tour, filled with everything that makes America great; stages for live music and scantily-clad TV personalities, booths overflowing with high cholesterol food of every nationality, balloons and tattoos for the kids, politicians giving last minute speeches, parades, bingo games, carnival rides and Judge Judy.
Surrounding the perimeter of the site, next to all the porta-potties, would be the Votemobile trailers, where the crowd could go and patriotically cast their votes, the same way that we now civic-mindedly donate blood to the bloodmobile when a natural disaster other than an election occurs in our neighborhood.
In addition to the Votemobile Carnival sites, thousands of Votemobiles would be dispersed throughout other neighborhoods, for people who prefer to vote closer to home. Mini-Votemobiles could drive up and down sidestreets, ringing their bells like Good Humor Ice Cream trucks, allowing mothers with small children, or elderly people, to vote at home. Other Votemobiles could park outside factories and large office buildings, offering free coffee and lotto tickets, so that working people might be enticed to vote during their coffee breaks.
Instead of wasting money on machinery that gets used two or three days a year, and sits rusting in a warehouse the other 360+ days, Votemobiles would be on the road collecting votes constantly. Taxpayers might even make money on Votemobile elections as big corporations would happily advertise at Votemobile Carnivals while smaller businesses would rent booths to sell everything from apple pie and American flags to Viagra and Botox injections.
Of course there are still some kinks to be worked out in the Votemobile model for elections. Some people might be concerned about not having all voting occur on a single day, for it would certainly take each Votemobile fleet at least a month to do their 25 state tour. But so what! The last presidential election wasn’t decided for well over a month after the voting took place, and the country didn’t disintegrate into ruin (until Bush finally took office the following January). As long as all the balloting is kept secret until the last state has their Votemobile Carnivals, it shouldn’t really matter.
A more serious problem is which new electronic voting machines to install in Votemobiles. The companies vying to sell us voting machines are all privately-owned, and are (amazingly) not required to tell us who owns them. One of the top six firms, Election.com, was, until recently, owned by the Saudis. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel was the CEO of the largest voting machine company, Election Systems and Software, while it built the machines that subsequently counted the votes that elected him. The CEO of Diebold, the second largest voting machine maker, recently wrote a letter to Ohio Republicans promising to help “deliver the votes” for Bush, and sponsored a $600,000 fund raiser for Dick Cheney in July.
And because these new machines are based on computers and software, it turns out to be possible to steal votes on a massive scale, using the same techniques that hackers use to steal databases or plant worms on your computer. In fact, a massive vote-fraud may likely have been attempted during the 2000 Florida presidential re-count. Diebold insiders have allegedly admitted that a “replacement” set of vote totals was uploaded in Volusia County, Florida, which took 16,022 votes away from Al Gore. The votes were given back to Gore, but only because a Florida clerk noticed the tally going down and sent out an alert. (See blackboxvoting.com for info on these issues).
If our elections are going to be rigged and our democracy stolen out from under us, at least we can make a big carnival out of it! Why should we pay these voting machine company creeps 50 times to steal our votes, when we can just as effectively pay them once (or twice). Heck, we can probably even rent out Votemobiles to our neighbors in Canada and Mexico when we’re not using them. So, my fellow Americans, let’s get the show on the road. Vote for the Votemobile.
(Next month: The White House Space Shuttle: Let’s keep our executive branch safe from terrorism by shooting the occupants of the White House into outer space.)