Citing concern that the American people were not given an adequate opportunity to voice their opinions concerning the ongoing war in Iraq during the last election, the Pentagon has announced a plan to make a broad survey of opinions across the entire US population. To facilitate this survey, touch screen machines will be distributed to public facilities throughout the nation by Diebold Inc. which will allow citizens to register their support for or opposition to the war. Of particular interest to the Pentagon are the opinions of military service eligible youths from 18 to 28 years of age who’s future, said General Richard Myers, will be particularly effected by the future course of the conflict. Because of this concern, the electronic polling machines will be delivered to high schools and college campuses in addition to government buildings, parks, and other public spaces. In addition to providing the federal government with a way of accurately measuring the will of the American people concerning the prosecution of the war in Iraq, the machines will also be equipped with a recruiting facility making it easier for those ready to volunteer for military service to do so without the sometimes difficult and costly trip to a recruiter’s office.
A preview of the machines presented to reporters by Diebold shows a touch screen with three selection boxes labeled respectively:
I support the war in Iraq
I oppose the war in Iraq
I hereby volunteer for military service in Iraq
After entering name and Social Security number, citizens will touch a box next to one of the first two choices. Those within the eligible age range may then decide additionally to select the third choice. The Pentagon hopes that the convenience of enlisting via the new machines will greatly assist in what are becoming critical troop shortages in Iraq and elsewhere. Gen. Myers said that the Pentagon was aware of the difficulties involved in finding time to visit sometimes remote recruiting offices and that efforts at outreach placed too much pressure on potential recruits to make a decision they maybe hadn’t been ready to make. The machines, he said, will allow those considering volunteering for military service to think through their decisions at their own pace.
Gen. Myers said that at the end of six months the Pentagon will use the results of the survey to formulate a better sense of the degree of support for its current operations than could have been gleaned from last month’s election results, given the fact that both candidates spent most of the campaign trying to outdo eachother’s warfighting qualifications. “We will only fight the wars that the American people ask us to,” said Gen. Myers, and he conceded that the unanimous support for the war in Iraq by all voters in all states might have been skewed.
When asked whether, unlike the machines used in the recent election, these would produce a paper receipt allowing for a recount in case of any glitches, Katherine Harris, Diebold’s new spokesperson said that the technological challenges involved in accurate paper receipts were still being explored and likely would be solved by the next round of national elections. She went on to say that there were many safeguards in place and that there was absolutely no chance of a miscount.