When Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 911 was released in 2004, many criticized it because it was based on pre-conceived notions about President George W. Bush’s motivations for war with Iraq. A number of documentary filmmakers, historians and academics defended Moore, saying that any investigative work has its roots in pre-conceived notions. The viability of such a work is not in its hypothesis but in the evidence provided to prove the theory.
Invisible Ballots: A Temptation for Electronic Vote Fraud attempts to surmount mountains of suspicion, rumor and innuendo and magically transform it all into evidence proving the ability of voting machine manufacturers to perpetrate fraudulent results. In this sense, Invisible Ballots is less a documentary and more an opinion piece in the vein of other recent films like Outfoxed and a previous film from Invisible Ballots director William Gazecki, WACO: The Rules of Engagement. This factor doesn’t make Invisible Ballots a bad film — it’s just important to remind yourself while you’re watching it that there is much more supposition here than hard evidence.
There are many problems with Invisible Ballots as a documentary. First, there are no opposing voices to the charges Gazecki makes. Throughout, Gazecki interviews election and computer experts, a journalist, New Jersey Senator Rush Holt, and a citizen activist who agree that the temptation for electronic vote fraud was huge, considering the lack of software security by the companies and oversight from state and federal officials. Gazecki tries to make the case that the Help America Vote Act of 2002 was nothing more than a way to transfer billions of taxpayer dollars into the creation of electronic voting machines that had little to no accountability built in for their computations.
As I watched, I wondered whether Gazecki did his due diligence in contacting manufacturers Diebold, Sequoia, and ES&S. If he did, that due diligence wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the piece. Instead, we heard from Gazecki’s experts what the executives of these companies were thinking and doing. Further, the paper trail Gazecki presents doesn’t really pass the smell test. Many of the emails presented as relevant proof of intended fraud look like they could have been produced by anyone. The email addresses on the memos are all from public internet service providers instead of intranet servers which would have the company name on the memos. Beyond this, many of these memos have words underscored by the red squiggly lines Microsoft Word uses to alert the writer to a possible mistake. Why the need to post these in Word? More importantly, anything posted to Word can be manipulated easily.