Now this is interesting. According to the Times today, an investigation may be underway because a maker of electronic voting software may have ties to the Venezuelan government. From what I can gather the concern stems from a series of transactions probably calculated to help sell voting systems to Latin America. You can probably guess how the article is actually spun, of course. (Story originally broke in this Miami Herald piece.)
The reason this catches my eye is its striking resemblance to a standard Republican play. Right after Mark Foley resigned, the Republican talking point was that their candidates had been recovering in the polls, and that if they lost the House it would be all Foley's fault. Or better yet, the fault of those tricky Democrats for arranging for the story to break in late October. Which sets them up nicely to claim on November 8, if they do lose the House (or Senate), that the new Democratic majority doesn't have a "real" mandate. After all, good red-blooded American voters would never break blue unless they weren't thinking straight. Only the inconvenient fact that powerful Republicans tend to be hypocritical sexual perverts could possibly distract the consumers from the overriding narrative of libruls will turn your children into gay suicide bombers.
With that news cycle pretty much over, the media's been starting to turn to the election itself, and there's even been a flurry of stories about electronic voting. So planting1 this story now is clever. Just when people are starting to think (far too late, but whatever) again about the security of electronic voting machines, get people talking about how the anti-American Chavez government is out to hack the vote -- for the Democrats! Thus laying more groundwork to claim that a new Democratic Congress will have gotten elected by cheating, and for that matter to call for recounts and legal challenges before the results are even certified.
The other reason this feels so much like a Republican ploy is that it fits so well with their other major trick, accusing one's opponent of the very thing one is weakest on. Recall the Swiftboat thing, where we had the odd spectacle of John Kerry, decorated war hero, having his war record disparaged by surrogates for Bush, a cowardly brat who couldn't even be bothered to finish out the cushy Air National Guard assignment he specifically got to avoid having to go to 'Nam. And on a smaller scale, they've done the same thing a hundred times in Congressional races around the country this year.
On the bright side, the Republicans wouldn't be working so hard to spin a defeat unless they seriously expected to lose, given that half their schtick is absurd come-what-may kool-aid-drinking bravado. But caution is also advisable here, because it sounds like they're also preparing to supress some votes after they're cast by -- of all the gall, as usual -- claiming rigged voting machines.
[Update: 31 October] -- digby makes essentially the same point, but with less rambling and more quotes to back up the argument.
1 Planting? Well, nothing against Tim Golden, the story's author, but he's basically spent the last two years doing quite decent coverage of Guantanamo -- the detainees, the abuse, the legal wrangling. I expect he was put on this story because of the Latin American connection, but frankly I see little evidence that he has much experience with election law, voting machines, or national politics. So he's mostly just amplifying the Miami article to a national audience.