We should be very, very worried about the elections on November 7. Not for fear that the Republicans will win — things seem to be looking good for the Democrats in the House at least — but that the election process will be such a shambles that the country could be thrown into disarray for weeks. Think Florida in 2000 and then multiply that all over the country.
With a scant few days to go, independent reviews of the election results for the recent midterms in just one Ohio county have revealed a plethora of problems caused by poorly designed electronic voter machines, lack of volunteer training, and plain shoddy processes. The discrepancies in the voter tallies reported in this Wired article mean that a challenge to the result is inevitable, whatever the outcome. There’s more analysis on Ars Technica, but the bottom line is this: it will be impossible to audit results of any election using these machines — machines that count over 80% of the vote in this country. You can trust the results of an election in a banana republic more than you can in this “bastion of democracy”.
By the way, there’s no suggestion of fraud in the Ohio case, but the potential clearly exists, from 29 machines simply disappearing, to the ability of any voter to vote multiple times simply by pressing a button on the back of the machine. But if there is attempted fraud, or even if someone just claims it (and can you name an election where the claim has not been made?) then we’re in big trouble. With no possibility of an audit, there’s no hope of resolution.
These problems aren’t confined to Ohio, either. See this list of the 10 Worst Places to Cast a Ballot for other problems besides voting machines, from restrictive voter registration laws to voter discouragement and extrapolate them all across the country. (This was written before a California Republican illegally sent letters to naturalized immigrants telling them it was illegal to vote.)