March 3, 2008, 4:20 pm
A New Role for Defense Contractors? Counting Votes
There has long been good reason to worry about Diebold voting machines. Many are “black box” electronic machines that do not produce paper records, so voters have to accept the results they report on faith.
Diebold, however, has not inspired much faith. It has been accused of illegally using uncertified software on its voting machines, exposing elections to possible tampering, and of making glitchy machines that misrecord votes.
Then there’s the little matter of the company’s CEO signing a letter before the 2004 election — in which his machines would be counting many of the votes — saying that he was committed to helping deliver Ohio to President Bush.
(The Onion has a hilarious video up on Youtube, a mock news report about Diebold accidently releasing the results of the 2008 presidential election before the voting occurs. View it here.)
Now, there’s a new reason to worry that Diebold plays such a large role in presidential elections. United Technologies has made an unsolicited $3 billion bid to take over Diebold.
United Technologies is one of the nation’s leading defense contractors, which means it has an enormous corporate interest in who gets elected President.
When we heard the news, we couldn’t help thinking of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous warning, in his farewell address, about the dangerously increasing influence of the “military-industrial complex.” (Watch a video of a key part of the speech here.)
Eisenhower told the American people that
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
Given his blunt warning, we suspect that Eisenhower would be appalled to learn that a defense contractor could be counting the votes in the next presidential election.