Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist
Platt Liebau is a senior member of the CaliforniaRepublic.org
editorial board. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator
based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News
MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety
of radio programs throughout the United States. A graduate
and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the
first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. [go
to Liebau index]
The Unworthy Motives Behind Boxer’s Election Bill
[Carol Platt Liebau] 12/15/03
Much has been
written over the past week (one standout is by Hugh
at the Weekly Standard) about the phenomenon of an increasing
number of prominent Democrats marching in lockstep
into the fever swamps of paranoia. Most memorably, Howard Dean
has referenced an “interesting” theory that the President
of the United States was warned in advance by the Saudis about
the attacks of September 11.
Now, a new Democratic
conspiracy theory is making the rounds, raising fears that
electronic voting machines may lack adequate
security – or even be used as a Republican weapon to “hijack” elections.
This “issue” was pursued early on by Paul Krugman,
the canary in the coal mine for many of the Democrats’ most
cherished conspiracy theories – primarily because the president
of Diebold Elections Systems (one of the biggest manufacturers
of the new electronic voting machines) is a major Bush supporter.
Democrats including Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards
have likewise jumped on the issue, murmuring darkly about nefarious
forces at work. And theories about a sinister nexus between the
manufacturers and Republican forces are thriving on left-wing
California’s own Barbara Boxer, the
Barbra Streisand of the Senate, has decided to insert herself
into this increasingly contentious issue, proposing legislation
which, on its face, seems innocuous enough. Boxer’s bill
would provide federal (read: taxpayer) money (of course!), this
time in order to ensure that states’ electronic voting
equipment provides receipts to voters. Although California Secretary
of State Kevin Shelley has announced that such a system must
be in place here by 2006, Boxer’s initiative would move
the deadline forward to 2004 (incidentally, the year of her own
reelection) and extend it nationwide.
So is it coincidence
that Barbara Boxer has stepped forward with a bill addressing
electronic voting just now? Not likely.
In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News last Thursday,
she noted, “We want to make sure voters are confident that
their vote counts, that nobody is going to mess with the machine.”
How exploitative. How silly. How distinctly Boxerian.
Someone needs to ask
Senator Boxer: Does she really believe that the danger of widespread
and systemic vote tampering that
she invokes is likely? If she does, she needs to find a comfortable,
sunny spot in a rocking chair next to Howard Dean and get some
serious rest. But if she doesn’t, why is she validating
conspiracy theories that she knows lack merit? Could it be a
convenient, if deeply cynical, way to energize her party’s
liberal base, as she gears up for a challenging reelection campaign?
Or is it simply easier than boning up on the tough issues?
But let’s be charitable. Perhaps Senator Boxer is truly
committed to ensuring that every vote counts. And if that’s
the case, it’s certainly worth asking if she’ll follow
that principle to its logical conclusion. In an age of electronic
machines that can print paper receipts, shouldn’t there
be some kind of “smart” technology that will ensure
that only the ballots of legal, properly registered voters are
counted? In a state where no identification need be shown before
casting a ballot, that kind of reform would restore Californians’ faith
in the fairness of the electoral system, more than a simple paper
receipt. After all, contrary to the liberal myths about vote
counting in Florida during the 2000 election, the state’s
efforts to purge felons from the voting rolls did NOT prevent
eligible voters from casting ballots – rather, they resulted
in more than 6,500 ineligible felons voting, according to the
Miami Herald, the Palm Beach Post, and Peter Kirsanow of the
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
But then again, perhaps for Senator Boxer, some kinds of fraud
are worse than others. Or paranoia may just look like good policy
from the vantage point of the fever swamps.
CRO columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst and
commentator based in San Marino, CA.