In today’s politically charged climate, it seems that polarization has become the norm. Divisions between political parties, fueled by partisan rhetoric and media sensationalism, have created an environment where compromise and collaboration are increasingly rare. But who really benefits from this state of affairs? In a thought-provoking conversation Lulu Friesdat, the Co-founder and Executive Director of SMART Elections, helps us sort out the origin and consequences of political polarization in the United States.
The Manipulation of Public Opinion
Political polarization serves as fertile ground for the manipulation of public opinion. As Friesdat highlights, polarized narratives reduce complex issues into soundbites, perpetuating a simplified, but distorted, view of the world. “Political parties thrive on red meat that pushes voters into entrenched channels of division,” she says. “Think about the push and pull between gun rights and safety, the conundrum of women’s rights and the rights of the unborn, and the existential questions posed by the profits and dangers of a fossil-fuel economy. “ In an environment of intense partisan hype, individuals are more likely to cling to their preconceived beliefs and remain closed to other perspectives. This manipulation not only hinders genuine dialogue but also stifles progress and prevents the development of comprehensive solutions to our society’s challenges.
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"We’re doing it wrong. We’ve structured our elections incorrectly — from the beginning — and naturally we’re having some very serious problems.."
New York elections are at a dangerous crossroads. New types of voting machines, called “all-in-one” and “universal-use”, are attempting to flood the state. After a four-year battle against it, a new All-in-One voting machine called the ExpressVote XL was approved on 8/2/23 by the NY State Board of Elections.
These systems do not allow you to vote with a pen and paper. They will radically change the way we vote. Experts say they will increase costs, and wait times, especially in communities of color. Experts say:elections conducted on these systems cannot be confirmed by audits.
The ExpressVote XL also wraps your vote in a barcode. The barcode is what's counted, not the text you see. There is no way for you to verify who you are voting for.
New Yorkers have been voting with either a pen and paper or a ballot-marking device for over 10 years. That system works. Voters can vote in the way that they prefer.
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We give you the full story about this voting machine, the timeline, and what you can do to help stop this trainwreck. Remember that New York Congressional elections helped determine the balance of power in the House in 2022. Join us - and get involved. It's urgent and it matters!
A MESSAGE FROM RENOWNED ELECTION SECURITY EXPERT PROFESSOR J. ALEX HALDERMAN
"...we urge those working to debunk election conspiracy theories to carefully distinguish between claims that the 2020 U.S. election result was hacked—for which there is no evidence—and claims that U.S. elections have real vulnerabilities and face threats from sophisticated attackers—which is the consensus view of the National Academies. Failure to clearly maintain this distinction confuses the public, discredits anti-disinformation efforts, and makes it even more difficult to have important public conversations about vital election security reforms and to implement those reforms. Voters deserve better.
We’re sorry to be the bearers of bad news when trust in elections is already low, but the public needs accurate information about election security. Whether our findings ultimately strengthen or weaken public trust will depend on how responsible officials respond.
The most effective remedy for the problems we found and others like them is to rely less on BMDs [Ballot-Marking-Device]. The risk of attack is much lower when only a small fraction of voters use BMDs, as in most states, than when all in-person voters are forced to use them, as in Georgia. Where BMDs must be used, the risk of an undetected attack can be reduced by avoiding using barcodes to count votes. Officials can configure the ICX to print traditional-style ballots that do not use QR codes. This has the virtue of forcing an attacker to make changes that are (at least in principle) visible to voters. States should also implement rigorous risk-limiting audits of every major contest, which the National Academies has called on all states to do by 2028.
Our findings in Georgia demonstrate that elections face ongoing security risks that call for continued vigilance from policymakers, technologists, and the public. In light of these risks, the best way for officials to uphold voter confidence is to further improve security, not to deny that problems exist."
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New York elections are at a dangerous crossroads. New types of voting machines, called “all-in-one” and “universal-use”, are attempting to flood the state.
Both of these designs often use a computerized ATM-style voting machine that does not allow you to use a hand-marked paper ballot. On 8/2/23, the NY State Board of Elections approved an "All-inOne" voting machine called The ExpressVote XL. It encodes the vote in a barcode. Experts say that using barcodes to count votes makes it “impossible for the voter to verify who they voted for.”
Experts and good government groups say these machines will change New York’s entire way of voting, undermine confidence, and vastly increase costs, because the ExpressVote XL is one of the most expensive on the market. They warn of longer lines to vote, because they say that when everyone votes on a computerized ballot-marker … everyone waits longer.
You and groups you work with can join the coalition fighting to preserve our way of voting in New York.
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