The disturbingly shocking HBO documentary HACKING DEMOCRACY bravely tangles with our nation's ills at the heart of democracy. The film the Diebold corporation doesn't want you to see, this revelatory profile follows a tenacious grandmother from Seattle, Bev Harris, and her band of extraordinary citizen-activists as they set out to ask one simple question: How does America count its votes? From Florida and California to Ohio and Washington State, filmmakers Simon Ardizzone, Robert Cohens, and Russell Michaels starkly reveal a rotten system riddled with inaccuracy, incompetent election officials, and electronic voting machines that can be programmed to steal elections. Equipped only with a powerful sense of righteous outrage, the activists take on voting machine manufacturer Diebold, exposing unsettling security holes in the company's equipment. They even go dumpster diving at a county election official's office in Florida, uncovering incendiary evidence of miscounted votes.
HACKING DEMOCRACY takes a nonpartisan, clear-eyed look at the secrecy, cronyism, and incompetence of elections in present-day America as it captures a citizen's movement intent on taking back elections--and democracy itself. "It is hard to imagine...a documentary this season that is more important to the civic life of the nation--let alone one that is so compelling and ultimately moving" (Baltimore Sun).
tells the tale of a modern-day David and Goliath. On one side stand three corporations in the voting machine business, led by Diebold. On the other stands Bev Harris, a concerned citizen from Seattle. When touch-screen voting machines are installed in her community, she decides to do some research. Harris discovers that black boxes aren't exactly fool-proof-far from it. As technology experts attest, the code is vulnerable to manipulation. Worse yet, after-the-fact changes are undetectable. So, Harris forms a grass-roots organization and proceeds to dig deeper. If that means dumpster-diving, so be it. Starting in 2004, Simon Ardizzone and Russell Michaels accompany Harris around the country to document her mission. Over the course of three years, they find several troubling instances of corporate malfeasance and computer malfunction. Foremost among consequences, her findings lead the State of California to file criminal charges against Diebold. Since most American votes are counted by computer, this isn't a trivial matter. Like This Film is Not Yet Rated
, which reveals the inner workings of the MPAA, Hacking Democracy
sheds light on a secretive process that affects all Americans--even those unfortunates who can't be bothered to vote. After all, they still have to live with the results, accurate or otherwise. --Kathleen C. Fennessy