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Episodes 4 & 5: More from Mexico

I figured you couldn't wait to hear the rest of my conversation with Brenda Lopez and David Palma. So today you get two episodes for one!

In Part 2 we get into the thorny issue of election security.

However, we are not just talking about whether or not we trust voting machines (more on that below).

We are also discussing the long-running impact of Nixon's "War on Drugs", and the narco-cartel violence it unleashed in Mexico.

When thousands of people are murdered every year, and when journalists and politicians are specifically targeted, how can we talk about 'free and safe elections'?

As for the voting machine issue...

This continues to be something I am both puzzled and a little freaked out by.

Is my worry that voting machines are hackable justified? Or is the perception of security v. insecurity just as important as the technical details?

It might seem quaint to get into a heated argument about the type of pencils allowed for paper ballots. But as we end up discussing in this episode, at least the debate signals that people are genuinely (as opposed to cynically) concerned about election security.

For more on voting machines - a topic I am sure we will return to - check out the MIT Election Data Lab.

In Part Three we return to the question of whether ordinary citizens can affect change.

If you listened to my conversation with John and Nicola about Democracy In the UK, you'll remember that they ultimately had quite an optimistic take on this question. The examples they gave involved average citizens single-handedly deciding to take up an issue, and it eventually leading to a change in the law.

In contrast, Brenda and David describe a more complicated, multi-layered situation in Mexico. Ultimately, they suggest that it's not just that people have different access to politicians, but a different idea of what a politician's job is, and what they are for.

Some site news...

You may have noticed there is a little floaty coffee cup thingy on the left hand side of your page. If you feel like throwing a penny in the jar to help support the web and podcast hosting costs of this project, it will be much appreciated! I promise not to spend it all on election pencils.


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