Directed by Simon Ardizzone and Russell Michaels (2006)
Hacking Democracy is about Bev Harris, founder of Black Box Voting, and her efforts to end the systematic use of voting machines to alter American election results. At the time the documentary was made (2006), computers counted 80% of the votes cast in US elections. However because the software programs that run voting machines are considered “trade secrets,” neither candidates nor election officials have any way of auditing whether voting machines are accurately recording and tabulating votes.
A visit to the group’s website (http://blackboxvoting.org/) indicates the vote tampering Harris uncovered continues to be widespread. Big discrepancies between exit polls and “official” (machine tabulated) results suggest that vote rigging is even more widespread today than it was ten years ago. If anything these discrepancies are worse than ever in 2016. See What is #Exitpollgate?
The film mainly focuses on Diebold corporation, owing to a fluke in which Harris obtained copies of software code one of their employees (a whistleblower?) mistakenly uploaded to an old Diebold website. With the help of various software engineers, Harris successfully elucidated exactly how vote tampering occurred in various counties in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.
She first became interested in the role of voting machines in vote rigging after finding a voting machine in Volusia County Florida that awarded Al Gore a grand total of minus 16,022 votes. Programming computers to record negative votes is essential to ensure that vote totals don’t exceed the total number of voters.
The film poses a number of unresolved mysteries, such as why John Kerry didn’t challenge the vote rigging in New Mexico and Ohio in 2004 – despite promises he made his supporters to fight voting machine tampering. Shortly after his concession speech Kerry, whose victory was assured by exit polls, acknowledged that vote counting in New Mexico (where every single Hispanic district voted for Bush) had been rigged.