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Hacking Democracy
Hacking Democracy
Actors: Bev Harris, Andy Stephenson, Harri Hursti, Ion Sancho, Mark Radke
Directors: Simon Ardizzone, Russell Michaels
Genres: Television, Documentary
NR     2007     1hr 22min

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 tena...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Bev Harris, Andy Stephenson, Harri Hursti, Ion Sancho, Mark Radke
Directors: Simon Ardizzone, Russell Michaels
Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Politics, Politics
Studio: Docurama
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 03/27/2007
Original Release Date: 11/02/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 11/02/2006
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 22min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

An important film
P. Mann | Los Angeles | 06/08/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Was George W. Bush ever legitimately elected president? The answer, according to many, is no. Whether they are correct, the fact that there is so much distrust in elections is a serious problem, even if the elections were completely legitimate. That legitimacy and the perception of illegitimacy are at the heart of "Hacking Democracy" and represent the consuming passion of Bev Harris, the center of the film and author of Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century. Harris, as the film shows, is obsessed with voting rights, especially when it comes to computer voting.

This issue should be non-partisan. Americans should be concerned about the accuracy of the vote regardless of their party affiliation. Unfortunately, the film, perhaps for reasons of recent history, seems to portray Democrats as the victims of Republicans' machinations. In particular, the film suggests strongly that President George W. Bush's two elections were the result of voter[...], not of actual votes, first in Florida and then in New Mexico and Ohio. I suspect that today's highly polarized zeitgeist might lead those who lean right to dismiss the film while those who lean left to endorse it uncritically. If I'm right, then it's a shame since the issue really is vital to the country.

Bev Harris, from the film's depiction, is a concerned citizen who stumbled across a mistake when she was doing an Internet search. Concerned about Diebold, which makes, programs, and sells electronic voting machines, she happened to find an ftp site that the company had neglected to remove from the Web. She downloaded over dozens of hours all sorts of files, including code to earlier versions of the voting programs. She allowed experts to look at the code, and they found serious flaws.

However, Harris did more than just download codes. She went through the trash of various organizations, including a local government in Florida, finding all sorts of things, including (the film would have us believe) evidence of illegality in Florida. She also oversaw the hacking of a Diebold data card in what the film claims is proof that machines can be hacked. (The scene, it must be admitted, is impressive. Eight people vote in a pseudo-election, and the machine reports the results incorrectly. A 6-2 vote turns into a 7-1 vote the other way.)

"Hacking Democracy" is a gripping film, one that seems to strive for neutrality. There is one scene with a Republican candidate who noticed and videotaped an electronic malfunction. There is also a passing reference Republican objections to the voting machines in some states. Nonetheless, the focus on the two elections of 2000 and 2004 leaves the film with an apparent, if not actual, partisan bias. Even so, the film is more than compelling. It is frightening. Whether President Bush was duly elected once, twice, or never is beyond the point of the film, at least for me. The fact is that many parts of the country have entrusted elections to machines that are not sufficiently trustworthy, and more and more, the mechanisms of vote counting are hidden from nearly everyone. All we know is that people vote, the votes go into the proverbial black box, and then a result comes out.

This is not to say that the machines are inaccurate. The film stops short of actually saying that any particular election was "stolen," but the point that an election COULD be stolen is made abundantly clear. Therein lies a serious problem.

"Hacking Democracy" is at its weakest when it goes off on tangents that question the problems in Ohio and Florida. This is not to say that there were no problems; of course there were. Any human enterprise on the scale of a national election is going to have problems. However, "Hacking Democracy" seems to fail to appreciate this point. Thus, a mention of intolerably long lines at some Ohio precincts is present apparently to add information to the evidence against the Ohio election. But this parenthetical mention is not entirely fair; it is, as presented, more innuendo than substantive fact.

"Hacking Democracy" is, by contrast, at its strongest when it focuses on Harris, her fellow crusaders, and their struggles against a huge corporation. At the heart of the movie is a David versus Goliath story about a few individuals who take on a large, apparently corrupt corporation and, amazingly, come out ahead quite a few times. This human element seems to be missing from the film, which seems instead to want to rely on Harris's grandmotherly qualities to engender the viewer's sympathy.

Still, "Hacking Democracy" is a vitally important film. Its message, however imperfect the delivery, is one that should be heard. Even if the charges in the film are incorrect (and I understand that Diebold vigorously denies most of them), it is vital that the country protect faith in the system, and the film offers a convincing argument that transparency is the most important step."
Everyone must see this, it is very enlightening
K B | KS | 04/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This movie is a must see for every American. You need to see how secetive the companies are that make the electronic voting machines and how easily they are hacked. This is the most informative movie you will ever see about the machines we entrust with our democracy. And most telling is when they hack a machine in minutes and change the outcome of a mock election. You must see this!"
Voters Need to See this Movie !!!
Tim Swike | 02/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I encourage everyone to watch this amazing video. Our elections are being stolen, right in front of our faces!!! We need to take a stand !!! Thanks Bev for opening my eyes."
One of the most important stories of the century - not cover
aikanae | scottsdale, az | 10/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is not a political story. What this investagation points out is that politicans, from all sides, have a vested interest in keeping voting systems secret and the way they are. This is a balanced review of some findings resuting from asking questions about how votes are counted. There are no fingers pointed, no one is directing blame and the film offers very few answers. This film gets your brain working, rather than shutting it down.

It's a well executed show that doesn't stray very far off it's mark. Do people in the U.S. know their vote is counted?"