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Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections (2008) » User review

Call to Action? Or Call to Distraction?

  • Sep 17, 2008
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Regardless of your politics, it's undeniable that national elections have become big business, and the greatest message presented by UNCOUNTED is that, arguably, a technology that accurately accepts, tabulates, and totals votes cast may yet be out of reach for the Great Society ... with the notable exception of good old-fashioned paper ballots ... and UNCOUNTED, a new documentary by David Earnhardt takes great strides through measured bipartisanship to present this possibly grim reality.

Thankfully, UNCOUNTED doesn't simply focus on the 2000 Presidential election's battleground states (Ohio and Florida), and I was presently surprised by Earnhardt's attempt to maintain a level of impartiality in presenting some (certainly not all) of the information here. I've read a wealth of material on the Florida elections, specifically, and I was expecting dramatic overkill or misrepresentation of people, places, and events already healthily explored by the mainstream media. (Yes, I'm comfortable admitting that I don't quite believe an election was stolen, but I'm always willing to be shown the error of my ways.) Some of what happened in Florida CAN BE chalked up to human error on both sides of teh aisle, and, after having watched HBO's recent political film exploring what was largely the Democratic perspective, I really wasn't up for more of the same. But UNCOUNTED surprised me to some extent. In fact, I feel UNCOUNTED works best when it is exploring the controversy associated to electronic voting -- what it is, how it works, how it's possible, etc. While I'm quite certainly a wealth of the information presented here was largely available via certain media outlets, there was plenty of data regarding machine errors and whistleblowing that I haven't seen anywhere else. (You can puruse my other reviews to see that I do frequent conspiracy literature!)

A reasonable person can easily conclude that voting fraud has happened, but I don't feel that UNCOUNTED significantly establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that any one party has perpetrated it. Honest questions are raised; associations are pointed out; a call to action is challenged by the director; and it's all handled with (mostly) professionalism and courtesy. Knowing what I do about organizations like ACORN and others, it's clear that there are other types of voting fraud not explored by this documentary, but the director never explores fraud issues before 2000 with any significance. 2004 gets some discovery here, and 2006 is largely passed over, except for the subtle message that exit polling data still didn't match actual vote counts. I also found it curious that, despite the possibility of electronic error in states where Al Gore won, there was no real examination of whether similar errors could have occured in states he won ... but that's a lesser point.

However, a reality check for Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, independents, and others still remains to be underscored at the film's end: despite the position taken by the national news organizations -- that being that the actual vote counts should match the respective news organizations' exit polling data -- is, debatably, pure farce. Research companies have already shown at great lengths that people are less inclined to be entirely honest with pollsters in matters of morality, preferences, and (yes, I'll say it ...) even race; and no exit poll previously created OR yet-to-be designed will ever account for this immeasureable variable. For many -- even those who don't worship 'the State -- feel that the casting of a vote is 'sacred,' and there will always exist in some folks the desire to keep that one simple act between himself and his ballot ... and perhaps that's best for all involved.

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Ed ()
Ranked #12
What? You don't know enough about me from the picture? Get a clue! I'm a graduate from the School of Hard Knocks! You can find me around the web as "Trekscribbler" or "Manchops".   … more
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An Emmy-winning producer/director of 31 years, David Earnhardt has produced a wide range of television and video productions including documentaries, entertainment programs, and educational videos. His work has been recognized with numerous Emmy, Iris and Telly national awards.
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