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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections
Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections
Other // Unrated // August 26, 2008
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Preston Jones | posted August 12, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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The Movie

In an election year, particularly, politics are simply inescapable. In an election year such as this one, with the feeling of a pitched battle brewing between generations, interest is ratcheted up much higher than would ordinarily be the case. As such, elements of the electoral process that might otherwise slip through the cracks or be fussed over post-ballot casting are magnified by a media and a population eager to pore over every last detail.

Writer/director David Earnhardt's Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections is very much a product of its times; a passionate, if slightly alarmist document that attempts to shed light upon a threat to democracy.

The wounds of the 2000 presidential election are still very fresh, with seemingly every conspiracy theorist raising fresh doubts about most major elections since George W. Bush and Al Gore first faced off in Florida. Earnhardt traces back to that fateful, historic contest and considers the 2004 presidential election and the 2006 mid-term elections, as well as looking forward to the 2008 contest between Barack Obama and John McCain. Uncounted not so subtly suggests that the electoral system is broken in execution, although not in spirit.

Having gathered an array of talking heads, from whistle-blower Clint Curtis to journalist Robert Koehler and a wealth of bloggers, government officials and analysts in between, Earnhardt spends an economical 80 minutes outlining his thesis -- that the future of voting, most likely electronically-based, is inherently unsafe and subject to tampering -- and pointing to a numbing succession of incidents that underscore his point. The writer/director seems to be striving for a "Frontline"-style impact and it's one that he achieves without having to resort to partisan hand-wringing, although there is a notable lack of Republican voices (save for archival footage) in the documentary.

Uncounted raises some chilling points, not least of which is that the 2008 election stands a very real chance of being tampered with on an unprecedented scale. Taking a page from other left-leaning treatises, Earnhardt ends the film with talking points and various calls to action that implore viewers to act as grass-roots advocates for fair, untainted elections. While, clearly, no one film can have quite that far-reaching an impact (particularly one that hasn't been afforded the visibility of a Michael Moore screed), Earnhardt's enthusiasm and dogged determination make this a work worth seeking out for those interested in the subject matter.

The DVD

The Video:

Presented in an adequate 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections is far from reference material. Cobbled together from newly filmed interviews, archival footage and screens of text, Earnhardt's movie doesn't aim for slick, big budget style but rather straight-forward conveyance of information. As such, viewers should forgive the occasional washed-out image or softness.

The Audio:

Since most of Earnhardt's film is comprised of interviews, the Dolby 2.0 stereo soundtrack gets the job done with no real problems. Dialogue is heard clearly and free of distortion, with no discernible drop-outs or other aural flaws. Overall, a perfectly acceptable aural representation.

The Extras:

Twenty extended interview segments and speeches are included, all of which are presented in anamorphic widescreen and none of which are longer than three minutes. Eight deleted scenes, playable separately or all together, are presented in anamorphic widescreen as is the film's trailer.

Final Thoughts:

Writer/director David Earnhardt's Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections is very much a product of its times; a passionate, if slightly alarmist document that attempts to shed light upon a threat to democracy. Uncounted raises some chilling points, not least of which is that the 2008 election stands a very real chance of being tampered with on an unprecedented scale. Earnhardt's enthusiasm and dogged determination make this a work worth seeking out for those interested in the subject matter. Recommended.

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