Review: “Hacking Democracy”

On Thursday 16th Nov I got the chance to see Hacking Democracy at the e-democracy'06 conference and finally meet the film's co-directors.

The film had to make a tough trade-off, one which I believe was ultimately successful. The directors decided not to try to comprehensively cover all the e-voting problems in recent American history. Instead they followed Bev Harris on her journey in revealing the numerous major problems with Diebold voting systems.

Yes, many other serious problems were not highlighted. The other vendors dodged the bad PR bullet. But the directors created a human, approachable film which you can connect with on an emotional as well as intellectual level. Given the Byzantine, technical and obscure nature of election procedures and technologies this is a major achievement which needs to be applauded heartily.

The film has incredible footage which shows the impunity with which elections officials and vendors operate – lying and breaking the law on a regular basis. Seeing legal vote count receipts being binned, Diebold employees lying and a major hack all are extremely powerful. But, for me, the most inspiring and wonderful part of the film is seeing ordinary, non-technical people get to grips with this issue, collaborate through the Internet, and fight back. They chose to make a difference and so can we all.