Why I Am Worried About the Legitimacy of the 2020 Election Balloting Process

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Any aware person who’s been following United States elections since, oh, the year 2000 should have a chronic, low-grade worry about the legitimacy of the election results. I’m not talking about gerrymandering, or voter roll “purges,” or ballot gaming, or discriminatory voter ID requirements, or even the electoral college, but rather that, for any given voter, it is not necessarily certain the ballot as cast is ballot as counted. The United States has a rich history of election fraud, and it has nothing whatever to do with “meddling” by foreigners; we can steal elections all on our own, right here. (See the Presidential elections of 2000 (Florida) and 2004 (Ohio); the Democrat Texas Caucus in 2008[1]; the Democrat 2016 California primary; and doubtless other examples that readers will suggest. Note that the list just given is bipartisan, as are presumably the election fraudsters[2] responsible). In this post I will do two things: Bring us all up to date on the continuing “ballot marking devices” (BMD) debacle — because BMDs make election fraud undetectable — and raise the issue of what will happen if a the 2020 election result is challenged on the ground of foreign interference; Adam Schiff’s recent tweet on that topic, posted in Links today, chilled my blood, and it’s why I thought to write this post today.

The State of Play for Ballot Marking Devices

As my first step, I thought I’d try to get a handle on where digital devices, including BMDs, where being used; surely there would be a map! This proved surprisingly difficult. The best map I could find was Ronald Rivest in 2018:

This map goes down to the county level; however, voting technology decisons can vary by municipality. The map, although it gives a sense of the variety of voting systems employed across the country (there’s your neolineral “choice,” right there) is also obsolete; being from 2018, it misses the surge in BMDs. Here, from Verified Voting, is a putative map of the prevalence of BMDs:

Verified Voting also gives a putative list of states that use BMDs, conforming to the map:

States Using BMDs Statewide

Alabama, Connecticut, District of Colombia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia.

States Using BMDs in Some Counties

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Unfortunately, the map and the list are wrong. The very first state in the “BMDs Statewide” category is Alabama. BallotPedia says Alabama (as of 2018) uses paper ballots. Here is a sample paper ballot for the 2020 election from the Alabama Secretary of State, so that’s still going on. Mobile and Baldwin Counties are using BMDs[3], but that’s not “statewide.” This is unfortunate, since Verified Voting’s data is replicated in a lot of places.[3]

So I guess we have to fall back on prose. The Washington Post says that “at least 18 percent of the country’s districts will use as their default voting machines in November.” Jennifer Cohn, “How New Voting Machines Could Hack Our Democracy“:

[M]any analysts have cautioned against acquiring these new ballot-marking machines for universal use, but election officials in at least 250 jurisdictions across the country have ignored their advice. Georgia (all one hundred and fifty-nine counties), South Carolina (all forty-six counties), and Delaware (all three counties) have already chosen these systems for statewide use in 2020. At least one or more counties in the following additional states have done the same: Pennsylvania (for the most populous county, plus at least four more), Wisconsin (for Waukesha, Kenosha, Chippewa and perhaps more), Ohio (for the most populous county and others), Tennessee (for at least ten counties), North Carolina (for the most populous county), West Virginia (for the most populous county and at least one other), Texas (for at least Dallas and Travis counties), Kentucky (for the most populous county), Arkansas (at least four counties), Indiana (for the most populous county and at least eight others), Kansas (for the first and second most populous counties), California (again, for the most populous county), Montana (at least one county, though not until 2022), and Colorado (for early voting). New York state has certified (that is, voted to allow) one such system as well.

Note that BMDs are most likely to be used in the “most populous” counties. This is extremely important, since BMDs are inherently insecure, that is to say inherently permit election fraud[4]. Again from the Washington Post:

New voting machines that hundreds of districts will use for the first time in 2020 don’t have enough safeguards against hacking by Russia and other U.S. adversaries, according to a study out this morning from researchers at the University of Michigan.

The study marks the first major independent review of the machines called ballot-marking devices… The results are a major blow for voting machine companies and election officials, who have touted BMDs as a secure option in the wake of Russia’s 2016 efforts [heh] to compromise U.S. election infrastructure.

“The implication of our study is that it’s extremely unsafe [to use BMDs], especially in close elections<'/ins>,” Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan computer science professor and one of seven authors of the study, said in an interview.

(Does anybody think 2020 could be close?) The security issues with BMDs are inherent to their architecture, i.e. unfixable. In our review of the Los Angeles County VSAP BMD system, we presented the following diagram:

The key point is that in the BMD system you get a paper reciept to take home with you, but that receipt is not the ballot (i.e, what is tabulated). The ballot is a bar- or QR-code, on the same paper, that cannot be read by you. A hacker, therefore, could hack the QR code, and you would never know. As Jennifer Cohn writes:

Another concern is that almost all new BMDs place a large barcode or matrix-style QR code above the human readable text on the summary card. The barcode, which humans can’t of course read, is the only part of the ballot counted as their vote. According to election-security expert Richard DeMillo, a professor of computer science at Georgia Tech, “malevolent actors could manipulate the barcodes to do various things, such as instructing the scanners to flip votes, and voters would have no idea.” As Professor Jones lamented (in an email to me):

We have a longstanding habit in the United States of adopting voting systems for use in the polling place without any real studies of how well they work. We only learn about human-factors failings after the machines are deployed and widely used… We followed exactly [this] pattern with the move to touchscreen voting systems, we followed it again with the move to voter-verified paper trail add-on equipment for touchscreen machines, and we are following it again with ballot-marking device technology.

It’s unsurprising, therefore, that the Los Angeles VSAP rollout is turnting into a debacle. From the LAist, “LA’s New Voting System Is Still Uncertified. Why Election Security Experts Are Worried“:

The state has yet to sign off on the new technology — and it’s coming down to the wire: In-person voting begins in six weeks, on Feb. 22.

Certification testing has uncovered:

  • Dozens of critical user interface and security problems, according to recent published reports and conversations with experts.
  • The Secretary of State found vulnerabilities that left the door open to bad actors changing voting data and, ultimately, the outcome of an election.
  • Testers could also access and alter electronic records and get into physical ballot boxes — all without detection.

Holy moly! Kinda makes you wonder how the Democrat primary is gonna go on March 3.

Who Resolves a Charge of Foreign Interference?

And now to Adam Schiff’s chilling tweet:

Let’s try to work through a scenario where Schiff’s dream comes true. As we’ve shown above, 18% of the voters, disproportionaly in populous counties will be using BMDs, which are “extremely unsafe”, “especially in close elections.” Suppose Trump wins the electoral college, but it’s close, as was 2016. Suppose the Democrats have some statisticians primed (as they do lawyers). Some counties are proclaimed to have anomalous results; charges of “election fraud” and “Russian meddling” (or Iranian meddling, or Chinese meddling, or Venezuelan meddling) at once pervade the press. What to do?

We will have exit polls; but there are two. They’re also not that accurate:

The history of exit poll failures is well-documented, even if the slip-ups aren’t that frequent. If the exit polls in 2004 were accurate, John Kerry would have been elected president. And exit poll data suggested Hillary Clinton would defeat Donald Trump in 2016.

(Or else they are, since 2004 was sketchy, and if you believe RussiaGate, 2016 as well.) To whom should be turn for an authoritative answer? I would suggest the organs of state security. From DHS website:

We recognize the fundamental link between the trust in election infrastructure and the confidence the American public places in basic democratic function. A secure and resilient electoral process is a vital national interest and one of our highest priorities at the Department of Homeland Security.

DHS relies on auditing the ballots after the vote (in principle only, so far). From the Hill:

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cybersecurity agency announced Thursday it would partner with election officials and private sector groups to develop an election auditing tool that can be used to help ensure the accuracy of votes in 2020.

According to CISA, Arlo conducts an audit of votes by selecting how many ballots and which ballots to audit and comparing the audited votes to the original count.

The tool has already been used to conduct post-election audits across the country, including during the recent 2019 elections. Election officials in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia, Ohio and Georgia have signed on to partner with CISA on Arlo, with more officials expected to join.

Krebs added that “At a time when we know foreign actors are attempting to interfere and cast doubt on our democratic processes, it’s incredibly important elections are secure, resilient, and transparent.”

Use of post-election audits have been widely recommended by experts as a major step to secure elections, particularly in the wake of attempted Russian interference in 2016.

(If history is any guide, it’s domestic actors we need to worry about!) Unfortunately, BMDs are not auditable[5]. From Philip N. Stark, the inventor of “risk-limiting audits, “Ballot-marking devices (BMDs) are not secure election technology

BMDs do not provide voters a way to demonstrate to pollworkers or elec-tion officials that a BMD has malfunctioned, and the available evidence suggeststhat voters are not able to check BMDs effectively or reliably, as I shall explain. Thismakes auditing elections that were conducted primarily using BMDs meaningless:an audit could easily confirm an incorrect outcome, because a BMD-generated papertrail is not a trustworthy record of voter intent.

So what’s left? Forensic analysis of the voting machines, I would say. And if you want to know how that will go, think back to the Clinton servers: There was no chain of custody for the digital evidence, and a party-connected Beltway vendor was used.

So, summarizing the scenario: In the case of a challenged election that turns on precincts using BMDs, we could trust the exit polls, but they may disagree. So far as I can tell, the only authority to turn to would be the DHS — which presents issues for the Constitutional order in and of itself — who have not yet done a forensic audit, and in any case cannot audit BMDS, because that can’t be done. I would imagine IT experts could be hired to dig into the code on the machines, but it’s likely those experts would be party-adjacent and not especially competent. We could, of course, appeal to the Supreme Court, but on what basis would a decision be made, given that the actual intent of the voters with BMDs is fundamentally not knowable? (Bush v. Gore, let us remember, took place when Florida had paper ballots. Not BMDs.)

I really can’t see my way to a scenario with a happy outcome, though I’d welcome a successful reader effort to relieve my angst.

Of course, with hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, no such problems arise. That would break a lot of rice bowls, though.

NOTES

[1] This episode is now erased history due to link rot, but affidavits from Texas caucus-goers were collected, which I have seen and read. The film-maker Gigi Gaston interviewed them for her film, the ironically titled “We Will Not Be Silenced 2008,” still available on YouTube.

[2] This would also imply, for all forms of balloting but especially digital, that there are consultants and/or precinct workers who have the skills to commit election fraud, for money or conviction or both. And most of them are probably smart enough, and low-profile enough, not to go up in small planes. We should regard these cadres as a normal feature of our electoral system as presently constituted. Where there is a phishing equilibrium, there will be phishers.

[3] More on Verified Voting: “Two influential board members of the prominent election security watchdog group Verified Voting resigned their positions late last year over the BMD dispute, accusing the organization of glossing over concerns about the systems’ security issues.”

[4] A cynic would say that is the BMD’s unique selling proposition.

[5] That might not mean the DHS doesn’t seize the moment and make a power grab. The intelligence community has not been noticeably reticent about self-aggrandizement, and election certification, de jure or de facto, would certainly be a feather in their caps.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Politics on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

97 comments

  1. Samuel Conner

    IIRC one of the last of the non-violent resistance techniques is “parallel sovereignty”. Perhaps set up tables a legal distance from hackable voting sites and invite people who are on the voter rolls (these are public, I believe) to cast paper ballots as a form of election security polling. The ballots would be publicly hand counted afterwards as a check on the electronic results.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      There are *all kinds of reasons* why this is a good idea; thank you. Probably “illegal” though, for our Security and Protection™.

      Reply
    2. howard

      Here is another way to check, which I stumbled on inadvertently in 2008. That year in my Texas precinct, I voted Green (identity politics virtue signal: two women of color!). When I looked at my precinct’s results, I saw that in fact two Green votes were recorded. “Whew” I thought, “you see, the system really works.” Then I happened to notice that every precinct that I checked had two or three Green votes, no más (more virtue signaling, that was Spanish!). Hmmm….. Maybe just enough so that everyone who voted Green could feel like their vote was counted?

      So, get together with several friends in your same precinct and identify a race where some candidate is likely to get very very few votes. Then all of you vote for that candidate and check it out later.

      Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      In principle, I agree, but since the voters in the parallel system would be self-selected, I don’t see how it could challenge the actual vote. Now as a reframed sort of “People’s Exit poll”…

      Reply
  2. The Historian

    A question since I am a little confused here : Are you talking about Direct Recording Devices (DRE’s) ? I thought BMD’s were only for use by those who couldn’t or didn’t want to use a paper ballot.

    BMD’s can be DRE’s but I think DRE’s are the bigger issue!

    Or perhaps, since I haven’t been following this, are the terms BMD and DRE interchangeable now?

    Reply
    1. The Historian

      Last time I voted in Idaho, I filled out a paper ballot which was then scanned by the DRE. But they kept my paper ballot too. The only receipt I got was the “I voted” sticker.

      Reply
      1. rd

        In general, I have seen very few stories of deliberate voter fraud by the county election boards. Generally, it is entities outside the election boards in this day and age that cause deliberate problems. If the local election boards have issues, it is usually a competence or funding issue (often an excuse for not putting polling stations in minority areas).

        The integrity challenges are generally gerrymandering at the state level, voter suppression efforts at the state level, or in this new tech era, hacking.

        Even the misinformation campaigns in the media or social media aren’t new; the old media a century ago used to do that regularly.

        Reply
        1. The Historian

          You are completely missing Lambert’s point. If you don’t know if the machine is tabulating your votes correctly, how do you even know if there is election fraud?

          Reply
        2. TheCatSaid

          There are LOADS of proven cases of election fraud using DREs. (And also with optical scanners and also with paper, even hand-counted NH and hand re-counted OH). However, in the cases where it was proven it took so many years that there was no remedy, and also no way to find perpetrator(s); or even if known, the perpetrators had political protection.

          Notice how all the Secretaries of State/Directors of Elections emphasize the importance of “having confidence” in our elections. They don’t care about whether the result reflected voter intent (and in most state laws this is never mentioned as being one of the priorities of the many procedural laws), they just want us all to “trust” the election results no matter what so-called “glitches” occur.

          Trump was correct in not agreeing in advance to accept election results no matter what. NO candidate should agree to accept results ahead of time. Look at Bernie’s not questioning all the blatantly fraudulent primary results despite the interference. Why do candidates politely concede? In many cases they may know how rigged the system is and how difficult or impossible it is, often because of legal procedural barriers or corrupt state officials or corrupt election contractors, not lack of evidence.

          It’s no coincidence that the Fraction Magic investigation of actual elections showed insider changes on the central tabulator in 100% of the JUDGES elections. No wonder there won’t be any remedy in the courts, regardless of evidence.

          Reply
      2. grayslady

        That’s how it works here for me in Illinois. We used to have a really good County Clerk (a Repub, actually) who made sure the website for checking voting statistics allowed you to see each candidate down to the Township and Precinct. Since I’ve voted third party a number of times, I was able to see at once that my vote hadn’t been recorded (I was literally the only person in my precinct to vote third party). I called the clerk’s office and she admitted that the vote had been tabulated but had “mistakenly” not been shown on the website. Now with our new Dem County Clerk, the website has deteriorated, and I can’t even see precinct level anymore. I’m wondering if it’s safer to vote early or absentee.

        Reply
      3. Alternate Delegate

        Before we had secret ballots, a vote used to be worth a twenty-dollar gold piece. Since we no longer want to be quite so open about the buying and selling of votes there are various laws against proving how you voted by, e.g., making a ballot selfie, or identifying yourself on the ballot. Presumably that’s why they didn’t give you your ballot after they scanned it.

        Of course, now that Minnesota is abandoning the secret ballot for primaries – and the Dems can make up a hit list of people who voted for Bernie – we may be heading back to the “good old days” where they can just pay you cash to vote for Chelsea Clinton.

        Why not? The essential gate-keeping happens in the primary anyway. Let the peasants keep their secret ballot in the general election. Where it no longer matters.

        Reply
          1. Alternate Delegate

            I am no longer able to find a reference for this. I believe I read the ballot-level tracking implication near the end of the paper version of the Minneapolis Star Tribune article “What you need to know before Minnesota’s first presidential primary since 1992” on Sunday, January 12th 2020.

            However, the online version of this article is now dated January 17th 2020 and no longer contains this implication. I am also unable to find this implication on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s webpage or its two legal references.

            So it appears I am wrong about ballot-level tracking.

            The links do substantiate the new oath you will have to swear to get a primary ballot: “I am in general agreement with the principles of the party for whose candidate I intend to vote, and I understand that my choice of a party’s ballot will be public information.”

            That’s in contrast with the past where you received a primary ballot that included all parties. You voted for one party, but which one was secret. That part is no longer secret.

            Also from the now-disappeared original article: the law may get changed before the voters’ party preference information is handed over to the parties.

            That is because, in addition to D and R, Minnesota currently has two additional major parties: the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party and the Legal Marijuana Now Party. Each received over 5% of the vote for a statewide office in 2018 and is therefore a major party for the next few elections. But for some reason they don’t seem to be the intended beneficiaries of this new law.

            Reply
      4. Jackson

        That’s what I got as well. Not good. I think I will take a picture of my filled out ballot to verify that that my preferences were accurately counted.

        Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            This would be true in any state with closed primaries – like Oregon. Your party registration is public information.

            I actually use this as a selling point: your registration is a public statement of your values – if you register Green. Our ballot access depends on registrations.

            Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i think ill take a picture, too…legal or not, dammit(after reading through this fine summary of how bad they’ve made it.)
          where i live,i don’t really feel the need to: we use scantron type paper ballots that are fed into a reading machine(like the tests we took in high school). the actual paper ballots have actual pencil markings on them, and are kept for a time(don’t know how long).
          the best thing, however….and it’s my same argument for my one branch local bank…is a small polity, where everyone knows each other, and watches each other in such important situations.
          the local party people man the polls, and all sorts of locals, party people, and elected people, as well as whomever wants to watch, does the counting, and the watching of the counting.
          each represents a check on all the others in the room, and the underlying and sincere belief is that “we don’t fuck around with this stuff because its important” is a big a deal as anything else.
          to scale this sort of thing(which i am for. i want everyone to have this), we’d need to revisit(and ratify, its still just sitting there) Article the First, and create many more, much smaller polities, so that it’s possible to know the people counting your vote.
          that would probably hafta entail rejiggering the states, and the lower levels of the federalist system, to allow more subsidiarity.
          a large ask, i know, but still…come the revolution, it’s something to keep in mind.

          that the overall system has gotten to this diseased state is an indictment on the “leaders”…as well as on our laziness and neglect for not yelling about it a long time ago.

          Reply
          1. Tony Wright

            To an outsider it appears that elections in the “World’s Greatest Democracy” are subject to several layers of corruption:
            1. The mechanics of voting, as outlined by the author
            2. The selection of Presidential candidate by the DNC
            3. Political stacking of the Supreme Court
            4. Manipulation of social media, including but not only, by foreign players
            5. The need for buckets of money from corporate sponsors
            6. Mechanistic disenfranchising of minority group voters
            7. The Electoral College system
            All this in the most influential country worldwide. Depressing.
            It reminds me of something I learnt once on a self improvement course:
            All people have two psychological thresholds:
            A. How high will you go before self-sabotaging? and,
            B. How low will you go before you get of your ass and do something about it?
            The raising of both of these psychological thresholds was advocated as a fundamental requirement for self improvement.
            Perhaps US voters should consider B. above.
            Oh well, I suppose the US voting system is better than that which occurs in China, which is a complete and utter farce.

            Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the terms BMD and DRE interchangeable now

      The terminology is now extremely messed up, partly due to vendor obfuscation, partly due to Verified Voting turning unreliable.

      Definition of BMD:

      A direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machine records votes by means of a ballot display provided with mechanical or electro-optical components that can be activated by the voter (typically buttons or a touchscreen); that processes data by means of a computer program; and that records voting data and ballot images in memory components. After the election it produces a tabulation of the voting data stored in a removable memory component and as printed copy.

      Genuine experts will correct me, but I think the difference is that with a BMD you get that printed receipt. (There may also be differences in how a “risk audit” is conducted.)

      Both DREs and BMDs are pernicious and should be abolished.

      Reply
  3. Oregoncharles

    Oregon doesn’t use BMD’s, either (it’s all vote by mail), except possibly for handicapped people at the elections office – a tiny percentage. If so, I don’t know how they work; could check with my county.

    Not enough to swing any normal election, anyway. This may be over-confidence, but I’m pretty confident in Oregon’s election system. The hand-marked ballots are counted by optical scan, a potential weakness, but they are also kept for recounts, so fraud would be forbiddingly easy to detect. My county, at least, also does audits.

    OTOH, Oregon’s deep-blue 7 EC votes have never been enough to matter. Maybe in combination with others – Washington, eg, is a much bigger state. But Washington, like CA, uses top-two runoff and I don’t think registers by party, so it’s very different. (Just heard from a Washington guy atthe convention; he said they COULD register by party, but given the system, it makes no difference when voting.)

    Reply
  4. flora

    shorter Schiff: we couldn’t push another centrist neolib Dem candidate over the finish line in 2016 so the vote must have been rigged by “foreign influence” and, therefore, illegitimate. uh huh….

    To the point about electronic, not auditable voting machines, yes. I’d suggest that focusing auditing responsibility to a single entity like DHS creates a single point for corruption. Much better, imo, to make the audits responsibility at local levels, a much wider and more numerous set, where corruption can more easily be tackled piece by piece, and obvious shennanigans are more easily seen. imo. Yes, you could have local political machines fiddling the vote in multiple places, but I assume they would not all be for the same party or take orders from the same power sources.

    Or, one could have paper ballots, hand counted, in public. Even better. my 2 cents.

    Reply
  5. LarryB

    And of course all of this could be used by Donald Trump to set aside the results of the election if he loses. I wonder who would stand with him, if a judge sent the Marshals after him to boot him out of the Oval Office?

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      And this is the most likely problem of the 2020 Presidential Election. Even the Democratic Convention. When the scale tipping happens again and if the numbers are close what will happen? I already will not accept at all any close races that goes against Bernie Sanders, and I believe that’s true of any of Donald Trump’s supporters. What will happen if there is no way to recount the votes of a close election and evidence of tampering appears? There is no trust to be had.

      Reply
    1. Philip

      Yes! Yes!

      and see this for background:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z56FevNeL8c

      additional background:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PROMIS_(software)
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_(surveillance_program)

      now the deep dive, grab a 6 pack or whatever…
      Part 1: https://www.mintpressnews.com/cybereason-israel-tech-firm-doomsday-election-simulations/263886/

      Part 2: https://www.mintpressnews.com/cybereason-investors-offer-israeli-spy-classified-intelligence/264095/

      snip:
      Instead, Cybereason’s success seems to owe to its prominent connections to the private and public sectors, especially in Israel, and its investors who have funneled millions into the company’s operations, allowing them to expand rapidly and quickly claim a dominant position in emerging technology markets, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and advanced healthcare systems.

      snip:
      Federal agents have reported systemic breaches at the Department of Justice, FBI, DEA, the State Department, and the White House going all the way back to the 1990s, breaches they claimed could all be traced back to two companies: Comverse/Verint and Amdocs. Cybereason’s other co-founder and current CEO, Lior Div, used to work for Amdocs as the company’s development group leader.

      snip:
      Other hints at Cybereason’s connections to state intelligence can be seen in its advisory board. Robert Bigman, the former Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who oversaw the spy agency’s “commercial partner engagement” program (i.e. alliances with the private tech sector), is a key figure on the company’s advisory board. According to his biography, Bigman “ contributed to almost every Intelligence Community information security policy/technical standard and has provided numerous briefings to the National Security Council, Congress and presidential commissions. In recognition of his expertise and contributions, Bigman has received numerous CIA and Director of National Intelligence Awards.”
      Unmentioned in his biography published his own website, or on Cybereason’s website, is that Bigman is also an advisor to another Israeli tech company, Sepio Systems. The chairman of Sepio, Tamir Pardo, is a self-described “leader” in the cybersecurity industry and former director of Israel’s Mossad. Sepio is funded by a venture capital firm founded by the creators of the controversial Israeli spy tech company NSO Group, which has received a slew of negative press coverage after its software was sold to several governments who used it to spy on dissidents and human rights activists.

      much, much more, with copious hyperlinks to support this research!

      Reply
  6. rd

    In my county in NYS we use simple hand marked ballots that are fed into an optical scanner to record the vote electronically and then stores the paper ballot in a locked box inside the machine in case of the need for a hand recount. Very quick, very easy with paper back-up. They have been using these systems for years. I am in and out of the voting center in 15 minutes or less usually. We used the same system this year for early voting that went seamlessly from my perspective – they used an electronic database instead of the older paper ledgers to verify registered voters.

    I don’t understand why this is not duplicated nation-wide. The complete vote counts are reported within a few hours as the electronic totals are summed. The media do exit polling, so if there was a big swing from exit polling, then that would be an indicator that hacking of the electronic part had occurred and they could go to the paper.

    I am baffled by how many states and counties want to become Broward County which is on the news for voting incompetence every election.

    Reply
    1. The Historian

      What you are talking about is the DRE system. You don’t know if that “optical scanner”, probably made by Verified Voting as ours is, is tabulating your votes correctly or not and since it goes directly to a hard drive, there is no way of checking. Your paper ballots may be kept but who knows what happens to them when they are out of your sight or how they may be used. The fact is that you don’t have a record of how you voted.

      Reply
      1. TheCatSaid

        Additionally, states typically make it difficult or impossible to recount the ballots. The rules are different in each state, but tragically having paper ballots doesn’t mean they will be viewed in a recount if optical scans were used. E.g., in some cases only a sample of the paper ballots can be recounted (and how and under what conditions the sample is chosen is problematic); in other cases only if the difference is above a specified percentage; in many cases they can’t be used, period. Go figure.

        Election judges have been known to force the ballot-imaging function to be turned off, when a voter took a pre-election court case to ensure it be on, so as to create a digital backup image.

        Then there’s that little issue of chain of custody of the ballots. I will never forget watching the videos Bev Harris and colleague took in New Hampshire, of ballot box drivers meeting up and pulling over on an isolated stretch of road, even filming ballot marking equipment and chemicals inside the van(!) and filming the pull-off security tape used to “seal” boxes of ballots and to “seal” the insecure door in the room where the ballots were kept, and the top officials refusing to answer questions, staff and lights on the the ballot storage building in the middle of the night. . . Bad, bad stuff. And for all we know, NH may be better than many.

        This is just a caveat that as preferable as paper is to no-paper, paper is unfortunately no benefit in practically all the cases of blatant election fraud I’ve read about. (and there are many. . . )

        In asking for paper ballots, one must pay EQUAL attention to the ENTIRE SYSTEM. How many ballots are printed? Who has the blank ballots? How good is the security? (Vote by mail has horrible problems. . . ) What are the state laws about under what conditions ballots may be examined (if they were not originally counted by hand). Etc. etc. etc.

        Reply
    2. ambrit

      Other countries, England being the usual example used, manage with paper ballots, hand counted in public. Results are quick and verifiable. Every layer added above that level of complexity just increases the probability of vote corruption. Simplest is best.

      Reply
    3. paintedjaguar

      I believe this is the sort of optical scanner/tabulator system in use in Florida for the 2000 election (using punchcards rather than pencil marked ballots). The machine count was shown BEFORE that election to be easily hackable and of course there were other vote rigging methods in play in that particular election. We also found out how the system held up in practice – when the results from the election were questioned, the counting of paper backups was simply aborted.

      Reply
  7. Alternate Delegate

    The Verified Voting map seems to include counties that use Ballot Marking Devices for (e.g.) disabled access, as an alternative to bringing someone with you to help you vote. That would presumably account for a rather limited number of ballots overall, and provide less opportunity for election theft than wholesale use of BMDs or DREs.

    I bring this up because all of the counties in Minnesota are marked on the map as using BMDs, while I believe virtually everyone hand-marks a paper ballot and feeds it into an optical scanner with their own hand. The paper ballots are collected in the scanner and can be individually inspected during a recount.

    Minnesota had two extremely close statewide elections (Senator and Governor) in recent years that led to recounts. Every single ballot was looked at in public by several people. And the results were very close to the optical scanner tabulations. A small number of differences argued in front of judges were mainly concerned with the voter’s intention, versus what the scanner saw. In these recounts we saw proof that the original tabulations were honest and hadn’t been messed with.

    That’s not to say that optical scanner tabulations couldn’t be messed with. Hand counted in public would be better. But public recounts of paper ballots give some measure of confidence that Minnesota election integrity isn’t broken … yet.

    Reply
    1. Joe Well

      I was going to comment the same for Massachusetts. I Googled ballot marking device Massachusetts and I only got info like this, about devices for the disabled.

      For decades, Mass. has used paper ballots marked by hand (fill in the bubble, like a late-20th-century standardized test) counted by 1990s-era optical scanners. Hand counts only take place in very, very small villages of maybe a few thousand people.

      Per state law, the results of federal elections have to be audited in 3% of precincts with a hand-count of the ballots that is compared to the scanner’s result. I do not know if there is any requirement for municipal elections.

      Here are the official results of the 2016 audit (TLDR a less than 1% difference which is still shocking for me considering the devices should be as fullproof as an abacus; reading between the lines, it looks like voters did not mark the little bubbles in a way the machines could read):

      Of the 350,241 votes that were tallied for the required offices and the chosen ballot question during the audit, there was a change of 2,946 or 0.84% from the votes tallied on election night and the hand-count audit. With a total of 4 candidates on the ballot, and 5 certified write-ins, there was a 1.20% difference between votes tallied on election night and votes hand counted during the audit for the office of President and Vice President. For the ballot question that was audited, there was a 0.55% difference between the votes tallied on election night and the votes hand counted during the audit. Of the rest of the offices audited (Representative in Congress, Senator in the General Court, and Representative in the General Court) the differences between votes tallied on election night and votes tallied during the audit were 0.85%, 0.72%, and 0.77% respectively.

      Reply
      1. TheCatSaid

        Unfortunately this kind of “audit” is of little value in detecting fraud. Tabulators can be adjusted to that vote counts are manipulated by small amounts to stay beneath the trigger threshold. IOW the *discovered* discrepancy on its own “could not have changed the election”–but combine that with lots more undiscovered small discrepancies and that’s how elections results can be easily manipulated. The tabulators can be set up to make small changes just in certain districts and even just on specific machines. See the Fraction Magic videos as just one exams of this.

        Reply
        1. Joe Well

          You didn’t read the comment or else I wasn’t clear. The audit is automatic for a random 3% of precincts in every federal election, not just in close elections.

          Reply
          1. TheCatSaid

            So-called election “audits” are not true audits and the use of this word is not appropriate and gives undeserved confidence. See the link at the bottom of this comment.

            This is true even in a “random” 3% audit of precincts in every federal election, as in your state. There have been problems of how “random” precincts were selected. There have been problems with chain of custody of ballots (lack thereof) of the selected precincts. There have been problems with discrepancies in paperwork. There are many more problems (see the paper at that link below!).

            To go back to my main point, it is possible to manipulate tabulator algorithms to come up with desired results without triggering red flags. This “trigger avoidance” can be highly selective so that even if a precinct is selected as an audit, any discrepancy will not in itself (!) be able to “change the result”–thus there is no way to claim results were tampered with, and no legal remedy. A very small discrepancy (such as the 1% you mentioned), can indeed change election results.

            Just imagine–you shift certain precincts up a little where it won’t be noticed or considered significant if audited, maybe you also shift other precincts down a little where it won’t be noticed or considered significant. You need political expertise to do this well, not just technical expertise. Not only can it be done, it HAS been done.

            No one is allowed to look at the post-election tabulator software to discover the hidden columns and fractional votes and rounding errors that are the tell-tale signs to a specialist who knows how to look. No one looks at ballot images (if and when they were taken). No one considers that the small discrepancies (such as the 1% you mention) can be exactly the red flag of such things as rounding errors caused by fractional voting results which only occur in fraud.

            It was only by the fluke that Bev Harris had won access to a number of historical original election tabulator results, and with a Memphis genius Bennie Smith (who specialized professionally in financial accounting fraud and who didn’t believe that election tampering like this was possible), it was discovered that election tampering had most definitely occurred. See the Fraction Magic videos and it’ll become clear.

            Excellent article about election “audits” by Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D, What Constitutes An Election Audit.

            Reply
      2. James O'Keefe

        Thanks for the info on the AutoMark machines. I have seen them at our polling place, but never used them.

        The Massachusetts Election Division’s The Voting Process page states:

        Mark Your Ballot

        After a poll worker has checked you in, you will be handed your ballot. If you are voting on a ballot which will be inserted into an optical scan machine, you will also be handed a secrecy sleeve with which to cover your marked ballot. You may proceed to an available voting booth where you may mark your ballot in private. Ballots are marked by the voter filling in ovals, connecting arrows, or marking an X next to candidates and questions. Read the top of your ballot for instructions on how to fill it out properly.

        If you require assistance marking your ballot due to physical disability, inability to read or inability to read English, you may bring anyone of your choosing into the voting booth with you. Alternatively, you may ask for the assistance of two poll workers (by law, the poll workers assisting you should be of different political parties). If you would prefer to mark your ballot independently, you may use the AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal, which is available in every polling place. The AutoMARK will read the ballot to you and mark the choices that you indicate. For more information on using the AutoMARK, please see here.

        My understanding was that optical scan voting machines are fairly universal in Massachusetts with some smaller communities counting by hand, but the Election Division’s Local Election Official Directory no longer lists what vote counting method each municipality uses.

        Campaigns can request, in person at the close of the polls, a summary of voting results from optical scan voting machines. At least in my city, they print them out on a long roll of paper like cash register receipts.

        Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The Verified Voting map seems to include counties that use Ballot Marking Devices for (e.g.) disabled access, as an alternative to bringing someone with you to help you vote

      Then “States Using BMDs Statewide” is a bit deceptive

      Reply
  8. Jen

    I do wonder how the “foreign meddling” narrative will play out if the general election is between Trump and Sanders.

    We still have hand marked paper ballots, hand counted in public in my little NH town. Can’t imagine the a budget for the purchase of any of that fancy electronic stuff every getting approved at town meeting.

    Reply
  9. Lady Cutekitten

    Hi Lambert (and everyone else)

    I lived in Ohio in 2004 when the head of the voting-machine company that the state used slipped up and declared frankly that he “intend[ed] to deliver Ohio for President Bush.” I expected that the next day there would be demonstrations, that this would be the big news story, that everyone I knew would be talking about this, that Democrats and any honest Republicans that may have existed would call for a postponement of the Presidential election while Ohio sought new voting machines from some other company.

    Well, okay, it was Columbus, it was October, and you can’t expect residents to be interested in a mere presidential election when the Buckeyes are playing, but none of those other things I expected happened either.

    Point is, this corrupt horse left the barn 15 years ago.

    Reply
    1. albrt

      Besides, the breeders already voted twenty years ago to cook their kids and grandkids by continuing to move to the suburbs and buy SUVs. No ballot tampering involved. And the vast majority of the kids and grandkids are going along with it, so no harm done.

      As a non-breeder, why should I care whether the end game is presided over by a Demopub or a Repocrat?

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        “The breeders” implies a rather insulting dismissal of much, if not the majority, of humanity past, present, and future doesn’t? Like Clinton’s Deplorables, it has a wiff of the old class hatred, a bit of contempt for the unwashed masses, or the common herd. Perhaps with a dash of victim blaming.

        Wouldn’t you agree that C-Suite Denizens of the Fossil Fuel Industry, the Lords of Neoliberalism, the Titans of Media, and the Masters of Finance, or their acolytes, apparatchiks, minions, and stooges are more worthy of such contempt?

        Reply
        1. albrt

          “a rather insulting dismissal of much, if not the majority, of humanity past, present, and future doesn’t [it]?”

          Yes. None of the classes have shown any particular virtue and all classes will be equally extinct soon.

          Reply
          1. JBird4049

            And here I thought I was a morose misanthrope!

            ;-)

            While I doubt human civilization will survive, or if does it will just squeak by, but humanity, as in groups of people, families, and friends? Hardly a doubt about that surviving.

            Anyways, I am not just going to lay down and die over all this although the temptation to just grab a keg of beer, or a couple of gallons of ice cream, or both while huddled in a dark corner with the cat is damn strong.

            Nor should you. Too many want what they think as the great unwashed to just go and die or at least be good little helots.

            Reply
  10. Joe Well

    My own interpretation of why optical scanners are used: the drama on election night, with a town’s entire political establishment huddled together waiting for the election results in one or more insider bars. In my hometown, they post the unofficial receipts from the scanners on the front window of each polling place and then there’s a race between amateurs on social media and the local radio station to tabulate the results. One year, we had an historically contentious local election and I’ll remember the anticipation and then celebration at the bars after the polls closed for the rest of my life.

    Yes, I know, not a good reason, but there is so little joy in local politics…

    Reply
    1. LifelongLib

      When my mom ran for city council decades ago, I recall going with her from polling place to polling place, getting early (partial) results from the people counting the ballots. Took longer but still dramatic!

      Reply
  11. ChrisPacific

    This feels like it merits a Banana Republic tag, since endless arguments over the constitutional legitimacy of governments (and the often multiple rival claimants to that title) are often a defining feature.

    Reply
    1. inode_buddha

      Amen. I wonder if we can get UN election monitors? How does one make such a request? And to which authorities?

      Reply
  12. T

    I don’t quite understand the movie. The Two-Step caucus had a second voting. Caucus numbers wouldn’t neccesarily be tied to regular voting.

    Someone also says that caucus voters had to have voted that day – I think that’s what she says. That’s not right.

    Early voters who were no longer engaged (or confident) on election day could make quite a difference.

    Your also likely to have more late voters caucus – People who cannot vote until after work. How many will vote at 10 a.m. and then say, yeah, why not come back at 8 p.m. to caucus? If they were even asked.

    I just looked. Dallas and Tarrant county had 200k early voters.

    Not that this changes any issues with voting that isn’t paper ballots hand counted in public.

    Reply
  13. turtle

    Lambert, I think you probably meant 2000 (Florida) in your first paragraph, rather than 2001.

    Also, probably “This is” and “since BMDs” here:

    This extremely important, since MDs are inherently insecure, that is to say inherently permit election fraud[4].

    Reply
  14. Albus Umbra

    I see no reason to vote unless it is on paper and hand counted in public. If it isn’t transparent and verifiable by anybody and everybody, I will assume it’s fraudulent.

    Reply
  15. JBird4049

    ***That might not mean the DHS doesn’t seize the moment and make a power grab. The intelligence community has not been noticeably reticent about self-aggrandizement, and election certification, de jure or de facto, would certainly be a feather in their caps.***

    Oh you mean a coup? Let’s call it by the right term. A coup. A coup by the ruling regime to maintain its position of power and wealth.

    Increasing stupidity like this is making a joke of our nation and its government. Some people want the country to become the very kind of banana republic that its ruling elites turned other countries into. Does not anyone remember or even read about the various coups, violent unrest, civil wars, invasions, and general mayhem of the century past century 150 years resulting from such?

    Having a candidate’s victory being deemed acceptable by the American Security State would be unacceptable, I believe, to most of the American nation regardless of their preferred candidate being the duly anointed one or not. It is almost as if the ruling class of this Republic does not believe it can lose its own Mandate of Heaven.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Having a candidate’s victory being deemed acceptable by the American Security State would be unacceptable

      Exactly. That is my greatest concern. At some point I want to consider the voting process as a supply chain. If one thinks of what the intelligence community did to Trump as a precedent, they would end up with control of both ends: Who gets on the ballot (they would vet) and who wins (they certify the count).

      Not that I’m foily. “Our system of managed democracy.”

      Reply
  16. Skip Intro

    My phone can read QR codes. Even if it is illegal to keep proof of your vote, it must be legal to read the translated version to verify. Of course even if you read the QR code contents, and ballots were printed with a human readable version, you could only verify that the ballot was a match to your intent, the tabulation is still done in a black box, so your intent is only honestly measured in a recount. Thus the need for the ‘counted in public’ part.
    In any case, it should be possible for voters to detect a certain blatant level cheating; subtly tuned cheating would, however, require large numbers of smartphone wielding voters.

    Reply
    1. JeffC

      But of course you have to trust the coder who wrote the QR-code reader. And the one who wrote the compiler that compiled it. Turtles all the way down, my friend, and outside of the defense industry, software jobs aren’t likely to require extensive background investigations.

      For readers with programming backgrounds — I think we have quite a few — there is a classic little paper on the inescapability of the necessity of trust that is well worth the time. I can’t seem to embed the link, so search Ken Thompson Turing Award Lecture. The ACM has it posted, as do some university CS departments. The ideas he presents there are why a 100% secure electronic voting system can’t happen.

      Reply
      1. Skip Intro

        But you can verify a QR code reader, and making one that already knows how to cheat on the ballot is not plausible…

        Reply
    2. paintedjaguar

      I think you’ll find that your QR reading app requires internet access, that it isn’t self contained. I.E. that the results it produces are hackable.

      Reply
  17. Nancy Willing

    Comment rescue from Delaware –

    “From Stan Merriman – We are going to need trained tech people at Delaware polling sites to help deal with machine malfunctions, poll watchers keeping a close eye on poorly trained poll workers and lots of trained eyes and ears at the general election central counting station(s). Wish we would have wider options for casting a hand marked paper ballot for 2020. As for this report, might have missed it, but did I not correctly not see Delaware as a statewide BMD state? Also, for the record, I found the reference to Texas 2008 caucuses total bullhockey; I was the appointed leader of my precinct Caucus where ;500 people showed up where in the past maybe 25; it was split almost evenly Obama/Clinton, with Obama edging the victory; our credentialing was slow but very, very careful and the whole thing taking 6 hours to finish. I later was both a participant in my Senate District Convention credential challenge hearing and official; we were scrupulous and accurate with no credentials challenges left without fair resolution. Same role at our state wide credentials hearing with a fair outcome. No evidence of manipulation by anyone……..including both Obama and Clinton campaigns. Great organizing by both camps and we concluded amicably.”

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the record, I found the reference to Texas 2008 caucuses total bullhockey

      I read the affidavits and saw the videos; there was also a second film made (film-maker now dead) with a separate set of affidavits. Your credentialing may have gone OK; in other cases the “flooding” was used, as the affidavits say, as a tool.

      Reply
  18. richard

    fwiw, and it’s probably something, gabbard has been out front on this issue
    I think her bill proposes paper ballots counted in public
    i haven’t heard anyone else in dc, including our dear soon to be defrauded bernie, raise so much as a squeak

    Reply
  19. Biologist

    Hi Lambert, a perspective from Europe:

    In The Netherlands, they voted with voting computers for about 10 years, and then switched back to paper ballots, where you cast your vote by marking with a red pencil, and cast the ballot in sealed metal containers.

    From the start, around 1997 when the internet was the next new thing and computers were a force of good for the future, there was criticism on it. The strongest voices were actually from the computer nerd community, an amalgam of (ex-)hackers, bloggers, computer forums and people around the first internet provider for the general public, Xs4all*.

    This opposition coalesced into a small but vocal non-profit foundation called ‘We don’t trust voting computers’, who made a lot of noise around how easy it is to hack these. This was proven true when some candidate in a local election, who also had his hands on the voting machine during voting day, got 181 votes for him, while in other precincts combined he only got 11.

    This non-profit foundation also published the computer code of the voting machine vendor on their own website to show how it was full of holes. They were charged some fines with copyright violations.

    In 2008, the government finally decided to go back to paper ballots, after both the electoral commission and the security services wrote a report that basically, the voting could be eavesdropped and manipulated from a distance (using wireless equipment). The non-profit foundation had a good media campaign, I remember journalists gave them a lot of coverage. There was also a court case where the judge ruled in effect that voting machines should never have been used (this was around 2006 or 2007).

    So, it took some years and some public pressure, but I think it’s now pretty uncontroversial in The Netherlands to vote with paper ballots, marked with a red pen. Not sure how the counting is done.

    I don’t think given the differences between the countries that there are many lessons for the USA.

    * The internet provider Xs4all grew out of a hacking club called Hack-tic, and was founded by Rob Gonggrijp, who later founded the group ‘We don’t trust voting computers’. Much later, he got involved with Wikileaks, and helped (I think!) release the Collateral Murder video.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rop_Gonggrijp

    Links, first two in English, rest in Dutch:
    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/20/dutch_ban_on_voting_computers/
    http://wijvertrouwenstemcomputersniet.nl/English (this is the non-profit foundation in their own words)

    https://www.nemokennislink.nl/publicaties/de-opkomst-en-ondergang-van-de-stemcomputer/
    https://www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws-achtergrond/veroordeling-voor-gesjoemel-stemcomputer~b3b34865/
    https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wij_vertrouwen_stemcomputers_niet
    https://tweakers.net/nieuws/48027/rechter-wij-vertrouwen-stemcomputers-niet-schendt-auteursrecht.html

    Reply
  20. SteveB

    Counting paper ballots assumes those counting, can count correctly…

    I’m not trying to be insulting, but 100% inspection does not work (counting is an attempt at 100% inspection).

    An introductory example to most statistical process control classes goes like something like this:

    A page of randomly generated numbers between 100 and 200 is copied and handed out to the class. The class is instructed to total up the number of entries between 136 and 174…….. Simple Right ??????

    Not really !!! The typical results in a class of 30 people is 15 or 20 different answers!!!!

    Humans make errors, paper ballots being counted in public insure error… we are not capable.

    Reply
      1. SteveB

        Lambert,

        In the example , no they do not check each other. The point of the exercise is to demonstrate
        the fallibility of 100% inspection in a manufacturing process.

        In the real world, yes, 100% inspection is over checked, usually by Quality Control. and it still doesn’t work!! Parts out of tolerance always get by (100% counting) This was the basis of Demming’s Process control… IE insuring the process was incapable of making out of tolerance parts based on statistical methods and sampling.. Demming was rejected by US manufacturers and embraced by the Japanese… That is how they leapfrogged US quality levels in the 80’s.

        I spent my career in high volume manufacturing.. 100% inspection doesn’t work with high volume EVER!!

        Reply
  21. JTMcPhee

    Florida’s got its “chad” problems (speaking of elections, isn’t “chad” an African nation, one of the poorest and most corrupt on Earth? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chad) When it comes to elections, Chicago is a real standout. https://www.salon.com/2016/02/14/election_fraud_chicago_style_illinois_decades_old_notoriety_for_election_corruption_is_legendary/

    Paper ballots, no problem — And Chicago used to have mechanical voting machines (‘machine politics’) that were as rigged as a Las Vegas slot machine. These were pretty big consoles on wheels, with a frame and track that carried a curtain that would enclose the voter and front of the machine, closed by pulling a lever that ratcheted the mechanism to the next vote. Of course your friendly precinct captain would be happy to assist you in casting your vote. He would walk with the citizen into the little area where all the levers used to make your selections were, close the little curtain around the both of you, and help you push down the lever that read “Straight Democratic Ticket.” Then swing the big lever that opened the curtain, and out you go to make room for the next citizen.

    After the polls closed, the machines were trundled to an obscure location where the tallies were done.

    Resistance was futile, if you wanted to have the city’s snow plows do your street, or have your garbage collected, or ever needed one of the myriad of corrupt little favors that are needed to grease the wheels of life in a big city…

    Reply
  22. NoBrick

    THIS: Lambert Strether January 24, 2020 at 3:18 am
    > There is no trust to be had…

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me…

    For all the invocations of our founding mythology, all the phenomena of clairvoyance
    (conjuring up the dead)-our founders knew/meant/understood, the proof is in the pudding.

    The vote (faked or not) of “we the people” doesn’t counteract the UNELECTED,
    calling the shots.

    Reply
  23. Ignacio

    If one takes a picture of the QR code that is generated a smartphone could read it to check if it is correct. Anyway, it still would be doubtful that the correct QR code is sent for tabulation. It is definitely not the same as when you manually insert your vote in a ballot box.

    Instead of ‘electable candidates’ it should be said ‘electronically electable candidates’. Those definitions are not necessarily equivalent.

    I don’t know if there are many as concerned as Lambert (rigthfully IMO) with this issues. All these uncertainties are there by design so it would be quite naive to think that manipulation won’t be the norm.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If one takes a picture of the QR code that is generated a smartphone could read it to check if it is correct.

      Hmm. Assuming that the QR code is transmitted en claire. Is there a reason to assume that?

      Reply
  24. JTMcPhee

    How about a big whistleblower payout to employees if the companies forcing electronic voting on us, for letting the rest of us know all the tricks and deceits these scammers are pulling? With evidence to show how it’s done?

    Is there an Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning or John Kiriakou or maybe a Wendell Potter in the set of coders and sales forces and PMCs that are operating the faux electoral consensus machinery?

    Market force plus conscience might combine to shine light into this particular nest of cockroaches and tapeworms. It’s worked for Medicare fraud, yes with specific legislative provisos, but a smart legal mind can construct a remedy… It’s worked good down here in FL, a small pharmacy has had multi-million recoveries in quite tam actions against Big Pharms and others: https://bergermontague.com/cases/united-states-ex-rel-ven-care-florida-keys-inc-v-apothecon-inc/ Not an advert, I have no connection to the firm or the pharmacy, just love the honesty and audacity of the proprietors of a little pharmacy that started off providing IV and other meds to people with HIV infections.

    There must be at least a few people with consciences among the workers in the electronic election fraud “industry.”

    Maybe a GoFundMe action to create a fund to kick things off?

    Reply
    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      With fundraising starting from house parties showing “Man of the Year” (the Robin Williams version).

      Reply
  25. marku52

    I assume Nov 2020 will be the start of Civil War II, since either loser can very plausibly proclaim that he/she/it was robbed.

    Buy your ammo and canned goods now, avoid the rush.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The DemParty side will have very few of the guns and ammo, so the DemParty side won’t start the serious shooting.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Are we sure that the Democratic Party leadership might not start something? I am not sure about some of the proles who identify as Democratic, and certainly not of some the unapproved leftists, being unarmed, but while the leadership might be personally unarmed, they probably believe and count on the police, then the military, as well as the rest of the police/security state to protect them. They just might have a very unhappy wake up call. They really do seem to be disconnected from most of the nation.

        IIRC, among the very first inmates of the then brand new prison, later concentration, camps in 1933 were the middle and upper middle class leadership of the trade unions, political organizations, law firms, the media, and other such respectable people who could not believe that they were under arrest. They thought it was a big mistake that would soon be rectified. When that didn’t happen, they often just collapsed.

        They did not deal with the situation as well as the less respectable members of alternative news media, political troublemakers, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals and other “undesirables” who already had been unliked either by proper German society or often the previous administration. The shock of being in a prison camp while often horrible, was more different in degree, not kind. Just a bigger pile of sludge.

        Reply
  26. TheCatSaid

    I hope Lambert and others interested in election integrity check out the 5-part series Fraction Magic by Bev Harris. It describes the process of tampering with tabulators easily done by a single insider (1 person, e.g. election staff or a consultant or repair person) with just a few seconds access to a physical central tabulator.

    Here’s Part 5, which may be sufficient to make some of the main points, but it’s worth it to read all 5 parts to get a full understanding of what’s involved and the investigative steps that uncovered this ACTUAL election fraud.

    Reply
  27. TheCatSaid

    I should have suggested reading Part I, which is an excellent overview of the problem that will not show up with “auditing” when computers are used to tabulate results–even just some of the results, or the state-wide final tally.

    Reply
  28. elkern

    I freaked out when I saw that Verified Voting says that my state (CT) uses BMD’s “statewide”. I’ve calmed down, after some digging – it turns out that we are still generally using Hand-Marked ballots, but have added BMD’s for “accessibility”. Making things easy for people is fine, but I’m want to make sure this isn’t just the camel’s nose under the tent.

    The ct.gov page that describes the new system looks like it was designed by the company that sold us these infernal devices (“Inspire” – ooh, with such a nice name, it must be a Good Thing!). It says “This system accommodates voters with impaired vision, restricted mobility, limited fine motor skills, or a wide range of cognitive, language, and literacy abilities”. There’s a picture of a nice lady with a (seeing-eye?) dog and a laptop.

    The “Inspire” system is sold by “IVS – LLC”, a small (1-5 $M /yr, < 10 Emps) company in Louisville, KY. Ownership "private; likely by CEO Yang Nguyen, who left "Appriss Inc to start IVC. No big red flags (though Appriss is involved in some creepy-but-presumably-legal "continuous monitoring"). I'll contact my State Reps to make sure BMD doesn't become the normal voting system for CT.

    Bonus: any post on Election systems should have links to xkcd's takedowns:
    https://xkcd.com/2030/
    https://xkcd.com/463/
    (if those fail, just Google "xkcd" and the number).

    Reply
  29. Todd D. Woodward

    Oregon, Colorado and Washington State have ALL MAIL IN voting. No polls. No waiting lines. No insecure voting machines. Unhackable, auditable and verifiable ballots arrive in the mail up to 2 weeks before the election date. You can vote in the buff if you want to. Then mail it back or drop it off at any of the many secure drop off locations. Simple. The media hates it because you can’t do exit polls. The Republicans hate it because it WORKS.

    The only security issue might be the optical scanning machines. But again, it’s paper. You can audit with paper.

    Reply
    1. TheCatSaid

      Hmmm. There are a few “little problems” with mail-in voting:

      * NO chain of custody of ballots.
      * Counting by optical scanning machines–just as insecure as DREs
      * Usually impossible to actually audit ALL those paper ballots (legal & procedural impediments)
      * No way to know who actually filled out the ballot

      Mail-in voting also does not deliver promised increased turnouts.

      Mail-in states have been found (in court!) to have included illegal bar codes that identify the individual voter. Supposedly the bar codes’ purpose was just to identify the precinct–but it turned out to identify the specific individual voters. No penalties or remedies.

      Better: ALL of the following:
      * in-person voting
      * on paper
      * tight chain of custody (including of blank ballots & ballot storage containers & facilities)
      * public counting (observable close-up, not at a distance)
      * laws that state that the purpose of election supervision/regulations is to accurately reflect voters’ choices.

      Few if anyone will see this, comment; but maybe Lambert will, and will think deeply about the wisdom of focusing *only* on paper ballots and hand-counting. It’s crucial to consider the vulnerabilities of the *whole system*. Local vulnerabilities will be exploited in unique ways. Gaps in secure chain of custody constitute a fatal loophole, with little public awareness of how difficult this security is to achieve.

      Reply
      1. Punxsutawney

        Ballots in Oregon are placed in envelopes that need to be signed, the signatures compared to those on file at the county elections office. Yes a spouse could force the other to vote his or her way, but it doesn’t appear to be a problem. I would argue more audits should be done but my experience here is that results generally match polling. The one state wide measure (GMO ban) that did trigger a manual recount resulted in I believe 142 more votes for out of over a million cast.

        Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *