Near the end of the horror-comedy The Campaign, the underdog candidate played by Zach Galifianakis woefully mourns his loss by asking how he could have lost since all the polls showed him the lead. The camera switches to a polling place where the voting machines are being closed up and put away, but not before they zoom in on the corporate logo of the manufacturer, the same mega-corporation who’d pushed through his opponent’s campaign and ultimate victory.
It’s bone chilling, to be sure, but one polling place in the US has already faced a software issue that led to a major discrepancy in a hotly contested local elected position. Candidates for the Republican County Judge spot in Craighead County, Arkansas, waited until late into the night for any word on the results of the elections, only to find out that a software glitch had miscounted the votes. While the software said there was only a 19-vote discrepancy between the two candidates, an alternate method of counting the ballots revealed the number to be far higher than that.
And who’s to say it’s true or not? What–or who–is behind the glitch? There’s no way of knowing, of course, unless the county wants to put all of its Super Tuesday ballots on public display, something that just doesn’t happen. So instead, citizens and candidates alike will just have to trust the powers that be who announced the issue, and trust that the final results (whenever they’re produced) will be accurate and manipulation-free.
This kind of software issue may factor big in the coming months as the US heads into what is arguably one of the most destructive election circuses in its history. No one wants a repeat of the weeks-on-end “hanging chad” fiasco that led George W. Bush to be appointed President despite losing the popular vote in Florida to then-Vice President Al Gore, but with the culpability of software–both intentional and accidental–many citizens are going to have questions about the validity of the voting process.