Rushkoff worries democracy may be expiring

· Miscellany

With the demise of the nonpartisan exit-polling service and the news of uncheckable voting machines owned by Republican politicians, Douglas Rushkoff has concluded that voting rights in the U.S. are in even worse shape than some of the dirty tricks in the last two election cycles may have indicated:

My farewell is also a sad farewell to democracy—at least in America. Why write about politics if I don’t believe in it, anymore?

As is becoming increasingly clear, the system through which we are supposed to elect our government has been subverted. I’m not just talking about black people in Florida being taken off the voting rolls, or poor people in Maryland being handed flyers that tell them the wrong day to vote or that they’ll have to pay traffic tickets before voting. True enough, machines at which black people were likely to register their votes were set differently than in white, Republican districts. (In white areas, ballots with errors were re-read; in black areas, they were destroyed.) But that’s not the kind of subversion of democracy I’m concerned about right now.

As is now being reported widely in the ‘alternative’ press, in the last midterm election, the computers responsible for exit polling—an unofficial but telling check on the official vote count—were suspended without adequate explanation. Shortly later, the exit polling company went out of business. Meanwhile, an increasing number of districts came under the control of a private vote-counting company owned and, sometimes, operated—surprise—by Republican Chuck Hagel. His polling machines may or may not be responsible for his and other recent Republican electoral victories that confounded pollsters and analysts in the United States and abroad. (Republicans won by landslides in largely black districts that had never voted Republican, before. And then there is the question of memos with the subject line “how we stole the election”.) But they sure don’t inspire confidence. (For more, see the links at Seeing the Forest.)