Big box with lid open and two eyes and teeth like a face

There is an existential threat to all democracies worldwide, a dark corruption, and sinister plot to rip the fundamental rights and duties of a developed civilization from the hands of the most vulnerable. The vicious beast of American exceptionalism (or exclusionism) has been caught in the hen-house of our governance. Evidence of it's racist, elitist, and over-entitled claw-mark's are all over our metaphorical "collective consensus;" our county-level ballot boxes.

This changeling creature we often call "Jim Crow" has been with us since the end of Reconstruction, but it was awoken from it's shallow slumber by the so-called "election" of Donald Trump.  Blowing his hate-trumpet, rebuking scientists and experts, his administration has neutered EVERY dutiful, watch-dog agency with an acronym. The Election Assistance Commission and the Federal Elections Commission are in chaos. “Unfortunately, serious personnel mismanagement and occasional hyper-partisanship by executive leadership at the Commission has too often distracted from their mission,” Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) told POLITICO in a statement regarding the removal of Brian Newby from EAC leadership. And after losing half of the FEC to abrupt resignations, the US is left without the only group charged with monitoring any breaking of U.S. election laws by candidates or political campaigns. Feral slashing of voter rolls, the blatantly-racist Kris Kobach's Kross-checks, and Gestapo-like voter ID & immigration enforcement has critically-wounded the public's trust in elections and other institutions. The 231,556,622 voting-aged people of the United States (the world's $4.79 trillion dollar defender of democracy) can't be bothered to muster more than a 46.9% voter turnout. If "I Don't Care!" was a presidential candidate, it would be tweeting at us from the Oval Office toilet instead of Trump.

The beast's toxic bites come from all sides, county-cuts to polling stations, relocating polls out of reach of urban poor, gerrymandered redistricting, and indifferent denials of early-voting. But when it comes to the county-level selection the public's voting systems; as Dr. Carol Anderson of Emory University in South Carolina calls out; "it's Jim Crow 3.0!" Appearing on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, New York Times Best Selling author of "White Rage;" and Professor of African studies, Dr. Anderson warns that America's secret and shameful animal has tasted blood, and it wants more.

If you doubt race is a key factor in voter suppression, Bennie J. Smith and Beverly Harris are featured in an Emmy Award-nominated documentary “Fraction Magic” demonstrating a back-door utility that they discovered shifting whole number votes into fractions!  As in 2-tenths, or 3-fifths a vote, let that sink in. It is a bittersweet irony, that as North Carolina celebrates the 60th anniversary of the historic sit-in by the Greensboro-Four, modern-day Machiavellian moves are being made by for-profit voting machine vendors, good-ole boy committees, and other guardians of the southern-style status-quo. But Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Reverend and President of the North Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NC NAACP) isn’t falling for the sales-pitch by Election Systems and Software (ES&S). A historic fight over hand-marked paper ballots, advocated by Dr. Spearman and the NC NAACP, along college students, computer scientists, and election security experts has erupted in Guilford County, the home of the historic Woolworth that sparked the civil-rights sit-ins.

During multiple vendor demonstrations to election officials, the press and public, ES&S representatives have been deceptively pushing their ExpressVote system. Of the three vendors (ES&S, Clear Ballot, and Hart InterCivic), the ES&S ExpressVote is qualified as a Ballot Marking Device, in that a touch-screen collects the voter’s choices, and spits out on a thin receipt which the sales-reps misleadingly refer to as a “ballot.” “A real ballot,” says AuditUSA president John Brakey; “...must list the options of candidates and measures presented to the voter as well as their choice, the ExpressVote’s receipt doesn’t meet that basic criteria.” The ES&S also encodes the voter’s choices into an ILLEGIBLE BARCODE. A separate machine (DS200) digitally scans this receipt and supposedly tabulates the voter’s will.  Though, the selections are printed in english on the receipt, there’s no telling what the barcode says. And  once the scan is completed by the DS200, there’s no confirmation provided as the so-called “ballot” is counted and then deposited into a locked box, no way to know if the barcode correctly conveyed the voter’s will from the ExpressVote machine to the DS200, All you get is a “thank you for voting screen.”

All the computer scientists, all the election security advocates, and all the people who came to the Board of Election meetings and were allowed to voice their opinion agree; Hand-marked paper ballots are the only way to go to ensure election integrity.  Guilford County is going to take up the issue again in the early days of October. With 2 Democrats and 3 Republicans split along party lines, the battle against the black box beast is going to get ugly.  As Brakey of AuditUSA says “It is crucial that the loser of the coming election knows that he lost, as much as it is important for the winner to know that they’ve won.”  Hand-marked paper ballots would provide the evidence we need in the likely event of a recount.

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