While hanging chads might seem like a distant nightmare—or a rusty relic from the Bush/Gore Florida voting debacle of 2000—in reality, advocating for safer and more transparent elections has never been more important. This point was driven home in 2004, after George W. Bush supporter Walden O' Dell, chief executive of voting machine manufacturer Diebold Inc., committed in a fundraising letter "to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." A couple of years later, the company's voting systems revealed serious security issues, including the discovery that any person with access to a voting terminal had the ability to completely change the ballot file on the system. For this fact alone, the Dec. 16 awards ceremony in San Rafael held by the Grace Institute for Election Integrity—a Marin-based nonprofit—was noteworthy. Five election officials from Yolo and Humboldt County have been honored for implementing the Trachtenburg Election Verification system (TEV) after the open-source tabulator proved to be superior counting ballots alongside a Diebold tabulator—which, in a not-so-shocking turn of events, dropped almost 200 votes. While Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties do not utilize Diebold voting systems (Sonoma county uses DFM Mark a Vote, Napa uses Sequoia Optech, and Marin uses Premier Accuvote), the efforts by counties to the north and east is inspiration to continue moving toward election transparency.
"I play traditional instruments like the banjo, but it's more of a state of mind around the music," says Dylan Flynn about the inspiration he finds in "the raw honesty of old-time." A fitting addition to the North Bay Hootenanny revival, the 24-year-old folk musician decided to attend college in Asheville, N.C., as a way to become part of its Southern Appalachia&–influenced old-time music scene, evident on Flynn's new release The Trouble with Caring. Recorded on vintage analog equipment and printed on a turn-of-the-century Chamberlain Printing Press, the album takes Flynn's adoration of olden aesthetics to a new level. After finishing his album, he sold most of his possessions, strapped a banjo to his back and hopped on his bike, taking three months to ride solo from North Carolina to Marin. "I've had an aversion to fossil fuels for a long time," says Flynn by phone. "I wanted to lay off the gas for a while and see the in-between parts of the country." Along the way he passed out CDs to friends, got caught in a rainstorm and was picked up by a millionaire landscape architect, and stayed the night in a historic jail. See Flynn get down 19th-century style on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at the Sleeping Lady Cafe, 23 Broadway, Fairfax. 9pm. Free. 415.485.1182.