Just As I Thought

What was wrong with a slip of paper?

Ah, voting machines. The greatest fraud ever perpetrated on the citizenry — machines built by corporations that donate millions to the Republican party, machines with confusing interfaces and insecure mechanisms, aimed at a populous that really doesn’t understand how it works. Does anyone really trust our elections anymore? I mean, since 2000, our trust in this process is falling steadily, and these fraudulent machines don’t help.
The latest story: back home in Northern Virginia, the voting machines are so poorly designed that the display truncates the names of the candidates.

U.S. Senate candidate James Webb’s last name has been cut off on part of the electronic ballot used by voters in Alexandria, Falls Church and Charlottesville because of a computer glitch that also affects other candidates with long names, city officials said yesterday.

Although the problem creates some voter confusion, it will not cause votes to be cast incorrectly, election officials emphasized. The error shows up only on the summary page, where voters are asked to review their selections before hitting the button to cast their votes. Webb’s full name appears on the page where voters choose for whom to vote.

Election officials attribute the mistake to an increase in the type size on the ballot. Although the larger type is easier to read, it also unintentionally shortens the longer names on the summary page of the ballot.

Thus, Democratic candidate Webb will appear with his first name and nickname only — or “James H. ‘Jim’ ” — on summary pages in Alexandria, Falls Church and Charlottesville, the only jurisdictions in Virginia that use balloting machines manufactured by Hart InterCivic of Austin.

“We’re not happy about it,” Webb spokeswoman Kristian Denny Todd said last night, adding that the campaign learned about the problem a week ago and has since been in touch with state election officials. “I don’t think it can be remedied by Election Day. Obviously, that’s a concern.”

Here’s how the candidate names appear:

SENATE
James H. ‘Jim’
George F. Allen

HOUSE
James T. ‘Jim.’
James P. Moran

In other words, the incumbents somehow manage to get their entire name listed — without, interestingly, their party affiliations because of the same problem. This especially helps Republican George Allen, who can only benefit from not being identified as a Republican, I think. Democratic Senate candidate James Webb, who has the same first name as three other candidates in this election, is going to bear the brunt of this problem, don’t you think?

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