Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hacking Democracy - again

I have posted on this documentary before when it was first released in the USA. Written and co-directed and produced by my nephew, Simon Ardizzone, it provoked a certain amount of avuncular pride. The Christmas break gave me the opportunity to watch the DVD Simon sent me. This was shared with my friends in their house high up overlooking the village. I suppose it was its Greek premiere.

I was nervous about viewing it for the first time with friends but needn't have worried; it is a gripping film. It contains the key ingredients for a good documentary, painstaking research, an intriguing topic and a star. In this case, in contrast to the egoism of the increasingly unconvincing populist Michael Moore, the filmmakers have simply provided the vehicle to allow their subjects to shine - the extraordinary Seattle grandmother and writer Bev Harris and her fellow activists from Black Box Voting.

The film exposes one aspect of the layers of alleged electoral fraud in the USA, the use of computer voting machines, specifically those manufactured by Diebold. It shows how, contrary to the corporation's assurances, the voting machines can be easily hacked to allow the falsification of the vote. Given the closeness of the last two presidential contests, and especially the importance of Florida and Ohio where some of the more controversial practices were identified, the issue could hardly be more apposite.

The remarkable part of the film is the picture that emerges of the obsessive democratic commitment of the activists who have come together to expose these flaws. It is a picture of extraordinarily diligent and courageous citizens seeking to defend their democracy from corruption. Though there is malicious pleasure in watching squirming executives searching for the weasel words to escape the truth, the real inspiration comes from the enthusiasm of these dedicated activists who personify the nature of a democratic society seeking a form of governance that matches their own expectations. It is an excellent, lucid and disturbing film – (OK I am biased but it is good). It may well be shown on Channel 4. Watch out for it but in the meantime follow the links in this post.

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