The new documentary film Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections takes a look at some problems within the current voting system in the United States. Told both through news reports as well as first-hand accounts of those involved with election reform, Uncounted offers an unflinching look at the problems we face in order to get our ideal of true representative democracy back on track.
The questions dealt with in the film largely arose from the aftermath of the 2004 presidential election, and include:
- Was there a concerted effort to suppress votes?
- Were the votes correctly counted?
- Did the rise of electronic voting and its documented lack of security allow for easy manipulation of the vote total?
- Why were the exit polls, which had been pinpoint accurate for 40 years, suddenly wrong in predicting a Kerry victory?
- Why were nearly two million people who tried to vote told that they were not on the registration rolls?
- Perhaps most importantly, why was the national media, almost without exception, ignoring these serious and substantive issues in the months following George W. Bush's election?
Blogcritics sat down with producer/director/writer David Earnhardt in his Nashville, Tennessee office to talk about the subjects and information laid out in the film.
The angle or the approach of the documentary seems to revolve around two aspects of the voting process that seem to have some inherent problems. One of those is the technology used to capture votes. The other is the conspiracy angle, that regardless of the technology involved, people are trying to manipulate the results. Is that more or less the summary, and if so what is the ratio of the problem? Does it lean more on the technology side?
I think the third thing I would throw in, too, is just the whole voter suppression issue. Where regardless of technology, people want to vote, intend to vote, but for various reasons aren't allowed to vote. Or have to vote provisionally. For example, how the film starts out, once you get past the opening, where you had all those long lines in Ohio. Well, here you have people who wanted to vote. They go, but they encounter a five-hour line, and they just can't stay and wait. So in effect, their vote doesn't get counted because they can't stay. Because that ended up being so concentrated, particularly in inner-city, African-American communities or precincts - and it was concentrated in Democratic-leaning precincts - it had a partisan effect. And I think that is kind of where I'm coming from in all of this.