Stealing America: Vote by Vote

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You won't feel any more secure heading to the voting booths in November after watching Dorothy Fadiman's film detailing myriad ways in which election results are seemingly manipulated and falsified under a deeply flawed system. A bit redundant since it deals with much of the same territory explored in HBO's acclaimed "Hacking Democracy," "Stealing America: Vote by Vote" is best appreciated as a passionate call for reform. It opens today from Direct Cinema.aug. 1

The film isn't always as effective as it could be in making its case, relying too heavily on unsubstantiated allegations by various talking heads. Although the cases made by these figures, including such well-known names as famed pollster John Zogby and Robert Kennedy Jr. are indeed quite convincing, the lack of solid proof undercuts the strength of the film's arguments.     

Beginning with a famous quote by Thomas Paine -- "The right to vote is the primary right by which other rights are protected" -- "Stealing America" proceeds to raise allegations of voter fraud, disenfranchisement and manipulation in recent years, though it does go further back in history to provide historical context. Although it concentrates on the much-debated 2000 and 2004 elections, it also raises issues relating to the contests in 1998, 2002 and 2006 as well.

Narrated in suitably portentous tones by Peter Coyote, the film mainly offers the reintroduction of paper ballots as a solution to the problem because they are far harder to tamper with than electronic voting machines in which thousands of ballots can be altered via the simplest of technical means.

Ultimately, however, the film's sloppy methodology -- including the endless use of clips from "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" to convey the message that the issue has otherwise largely been ignored by the mainstream press -- fail to do this vital subject sufficient justice.

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