Monday, May 19, 2008

Preserving Your Vote

Given the record-breaking voter turnout throughout this primary season, huge numbers are expected to turn out at the polls in November. In anticipation of this, several watchdog voter groups have started proactive educational campaigns on YouTube, hoping to educate as many voters as possible about the complexities and pitfalls of the American voting system.

Back in 2006, an organization called "Video the Vote" started a YouTube channel, encouraging everyday citizens to capture their voting experiences on film. Concerned about the disenfranchisement of eligible voters in both the 2000 and 2004 elections because of problems like long lines, voter intimidation, and broken voting machines, Video the Vote asked people to document their polling places and expose alarming defects in the electoral system. Others followed their lead, like the group Election Journal, which goes into the polling places and talks to voters on the scene about some of the hurdles they face on election day, like ballot shortages and rigorous voter identification. User bringingtherock posted his own video of his personal election day experience when the voting machine he was using broke as he was casting his ballot.

Since then, a number of organizations and individual users have been crusading on YouTube to help teach Americans about the voting process. Black Box Voting, a non-profit organization dedicated to monitoring elections, created a series on their YouTube channel called "Election Reality TV." In their most viewed video, "New Hampshire Primary - Sham Chain of Custody," representatives from BlackBoxVoting drill-down on polling place workers on exactly how the ballot boxes work (ultimately determining that the boxes were not truly sealed).

There are also a number of documentaries on the subject that attempt to give a fuller picture. Rocketboom created a short, informative piece called "The State of Electronic Voting Machines," and's two-part series, "Voter Fraud and Black Box Voting," is also worth checking out. For those wanting to understand the issues in depth, the real must-see is the award-winning series "Hacking Democracy," which is available on YouTube in its entirety in nine parts.


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