As a security pro I tend to be a bit paranoid and cynical even outside the domain of technology. Heck, I can’t even get past a nice simple election without picking up on some interesting fraudulent twist.

Last night my wife and I were filling out our absentee ballots; never an easy process here in Arizona. Oh, picking candidates is easy enough (Obama for me), but as far as I’m concerned all those ballot initiatives are one of the biggest frauds in our democratic system. I can’t even call it voting, so like any good security researcher I’ll make up a silly word and call it “photing”.

Last election cycle we had two competing ballot measures to ban smoking- the real one, put together by a grass roots organization, and the fake one, which pretended to limit smoking but was sponsored by Philip Morris. The goal was simply to confuse the voters, perhaps passing both, and getting to fight it out in the courts.

This year we have the worst case of photing I’ve seen since I cast my first ballot at the age of 18. Arizona is home to a ton of migrant labor, and in Phoenix you can’t go a block in certain parts of town without seeing those predatory PayDay loan outfits. A while back, the legislature temporarily suspended the law limiting usury short-term loans, creating this industry. People short on cash can get loans at ridiculous rates (up to 400%) to hold them over until their next paycheck… which clearly won’t go as far. This suspension is due to die in 2010, and the state legislature refuses to extend it.

What’s an evil loan shark to do? I mean it isn’t like the voting public would support them?

Thus was born Proposition 200 to “crack down on the PayDay loan industry”. There’s even a massive full-court-press ad campaign about how this will lock them down, keep them honest, and protect innocent kittens.

One problem- the initiative, and the ad campaign to control these near-criminals, is nearly completely funded… by these even-nearer-criminals. Why? Because without this initiative, the entire industry will be shut down in 2010.

Where are Joe Kennedy and Karl Rove when you need them?