Election fraud

Saw this in today’s paper and thought it was pretty interesting. To sum up, if Bush loses it’s because his policies suck ass. If Bush wins, it’s because of election fraud in Florida (again). I love it when a good plan comes together!

(You’ll need to register for a free account to access this)

Fear of Fraud

Published: July 27, 2004

It’s election night, and early returns suggest trouble for the incumbent. Then, mysteriously, the vote count stops and observers from the challenger’s campaign see employees of a voting-machine company, one wearing a badge that identifies him as a county official, typing instructions at computers with access to the vote-tabulating software.

When the count resumes, the incumbent pulls ahead. The challenger demands an investigation. But there are no ballots to recount, and election officials allied with the incumbent refuse to release data that could shed light on whether there was tampering with the electronic records.

This isn’t a paranoid fantasy. It’s a true account of a recent election in Riverside County, Calif., reported by Andrew Gumbel of the British newspaper The Independent. Mr. Gumbel’s full-length report, printed in Los Angeles City Beat, makes hair-raising reading not just because it reinforces concerns about touch-screen voting, but also because it shows how easily officials can stonewall after a suspect election.

Some states, worried about the potential for abuse with voting machines that leave no paper trail, have banned their use this November. But Florida, which may well decide the presidential race, is not among those states, and last month state officials rejected a request to allow independent audits of the machines’ integrity. A spokesman for Gov. Jeb Bush accused those seeking audits of trying to “undermine voters’ confidence,” and declared, “The governor has every confidence in the Department of State and the Division of Elections.”

Should the public share that confidence? Consider the felon list.

Florida law denies the vote to convicted felons. In 2000 the state hired a firm to purge supposed felons from the list of registered voters; these voters were turned away from the polls. After the election, determined by 537 votes, it became clear that thousands of people had been wrongly disenfranchised. Since those misidentified as felons were disproportionately Democratic-leaning African-Americans, these errors may have put George W. Bush in the White House.

This year, Florida again hired a private company - Accenture, which recently got a homeland security contract worth up to $10 billion - to prepare a felon list. Remembering 2000, journalists sought copies. State officials stonewalled, but a judge eventually ordered the list released.

The Miami Herald quickly discovered that 2,100 citizens who had been granted clemency, restoring their voting rights, were nonetheless on the banned-voter list. Then The Sarasota Herald-Tribune discovered that only 61 of more than 47,000 supposed felons were Hispanic. So the list would have wrongly disenfranchised many legitimate African-American voters, while wrongly enfranchising many Hispanic felons. It escaped nobody’s attention that in Florida, Hispanic voters tend to support Republicans.

After first denying any systematic problem, state officials declared it an innocent mistake. They told Accenture to match a list of registered voters to a list of felons, flagging anyone whose name, date of birth and race was the same on both lists. They didn’t realize, they said, that this would automatically miss felons who identified themselves as Hispanic because that category exists on voter rolls but not in state criminal records.

But employees of a company that prepared earlier felon lists say that they repeatedly warned state election officials about that very problem.

Let’s not be coy. Jeb Bush says he won’t allow an independent examination of voting machines because he has “every confidence” in his handpicked election officials. Yet those officials have a history of slipshod performance on other matters related to voting and somehow their errors always end up favoring Republicans. Why should anyone trust their verdict on the integrity of voting machines, when another convenient mistake could deliver a Republican victory in a high-stakes national election?

This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Think about what a tainted election would do to America’s sense of itself, and its role in the world. In the face of official stonewalling, doubters probably wouldn’t be able to prove one way or the other whether the vote count was distorted - but if the result looked suspicious, most of the world and many Americans would believe the worst. I’ll write soon about what can be done in the few weeks that remain, but here’s a first step: if Governor Bush cares at all about the future of the nation, as well as his family’s political fortunes, he will allow that independent audit.

Man, Krugman is even more off the deep end than usual these days. But I guess he’s just on the Dem bandwagon concerning voting issues. Mind you, no one seems to care that two Dem U.S. Senators were elected with major voter fraud issues in South Dakota and Louisiana.

No Doctored DRE
Democrats use computer hysteria to get out the vote.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

BOSTON–You don’t have to go far here to find a Democrat who says the 2000 election was stolen. John Kerry is one of them. He claims a million African-Americans nationwide had their votes stolen and he won’t let it happen again.

On Sunday, he followed that up by saying that his legal SWAT team is looking at “each and every district” with possible voting problems: “We may or may not be bringing challenges publicly in the course of the next few weeks,” he said in Ohio. He mentioned that in Florida some voters are being removed from the rolls if they didn’t respond to a letter from election officials. Since many states routinely send such mailings to those who haven’t voted in years, we are in for an avalanche of litigation if that’s the level of scrutiny Mr. Kerry is applying. He might even have to ask former trial lawyer John Edwards to lend a hand.

Many delegates here buy into a more bizarre conspiracy theory: that unscrupulous “Manchurian Programmers” could manipulate the new electronic voting machines that 35 million Americans will use in November. They note that Walden O’Dell, the CEO of Diebold Election Systems, sent a personal fund-raising letter last year to Republicans stating his goal was “helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president.” This month, Moveon.org held rallies in 19 states to demand that new electronic machines print paper receipts to ensure an accurate count, something only Nevada will be able to implement by November. Democratic State Rep. Chris Smith of Florida says he is using concerns that votes will be lost or manipulated as a get-out-the-vote tool for John Kerry: “I tell them to bring an extra person to the polls.”

It’s true some states have moved too quickly using new federal money to buy Direct Recording Electronic voting machines (DREs), which work like an ATM. Several states have reported software failures, and California officials have accused Diebold of using uncertified software and misleading them. But exaggerating the problems with DREs will only fuel a litigation mindset that could make Florida 2000 look like a moot court.

Joe Andrew, chairman of the Democratic National Committee until 2001, is a senior adviser to a biotech firm that owned several Internet companies. He says the conspiracy theories aren’t healthy and last month he told the Maryland Association of Election Officials that “When it comes to electronic voting, most liberals are just plain old-fashioned nuts.” While conservatives were skilled at coordinating their messages, he added, “that does not mean there is a vast right-wing conspiracy trying to steal votes in America, as the loudest voices on the left are saying today.”

Mr. Andrew said the people obsessed about DRE manipulation are either computer experts with impressive technical knowledge but little practical experience with elections or left-leaning computer users who are conspiratorial by nature. He noted with regret that they have been joined in their hysteria by prominent Democrats who “are rallying behind the anti-DRE bandwagon in a big election year because they think that this movement is good for Democrats.”

They’re wrong. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights has generally supported electronic voting because the voters who are most likely to be helped by DREs are (a) the disabled (they can vote without assistance); (b) the less educated (they’re comforted by the machines’ similarity to the ATM); (c) the elderly (you can increase the type size) and (d) citizens with limited English skills (the machines are multilingual).

Indeed, whatever problems DREs have must be compared to other existing systems. In last year’s California recall election, punch-card systems didn’t register a valid vote on 6.3% of all ballots cast. For optical scan systems, the under-vote rate was 2.7% and for DREs it was only 1.5%. As for the theories that DREs could be programmed to change an election outcome, Mr. Andrew dismissed them by saying, “the liberal Internet activists are bonkers.” John Lott, an American Enterprise Institute economist who has studied election systems, adds that some of the obsession about DREs, “sounds a lot like an effort to anger some people into voting while providing the basis for lots of election litigation if the results are close.”

The leading crusader against DREs is Bev Harris, a journalist from Seattle, who has co-authored a book called “Black Box Voting.” But she suffered a blow to her credibility this month when it was revealed that last year she had joined computer programmer Jim March in filing a “whistle-blower” lawsuit in California that seeks monetary damages from Diebold for machine failures there. The lawsuit, known as a qui tam because it rewards those who help the government identify fraud, would allow Ms. Harris and Mr. March to collect up to 30% of any award. “This is about money now–a case of the capitalist system at work,” Mr. March told the AP.

Their lawsuit has touched off a firestorm of criticism from other anti-DRE activists. They note that last year Ms. Harris wrote on the Web site Democratic Underground that she and her colleagues “came to the conclusion that doing this for money was the wrong thing to do . . . we aren’t soiling ourselves with Qui Tam money.” David Allen, Ms. Harris’ co-author and publisher, is deeply disappointed she has allowed critics to question her motives. A liberal Democrat, he thinks she and others exaggerate the danger of hackers stealing an election. “I think this whole debate has been cast too much in partisan terms,” he says. “The incompetence of the voting machine companies is real enough. We would never guard our currency at the U.S. Mint the way we guard the currency of democracy–votes.”

Ms. Harris responds that she has legal disputes with Mr. Allen and believes other Internet activists have filed qui tam lawsuits that are under seal. She says any money from a settlement with Diebold would go to a non-profit foundation investigating electronic voting. She is employed by that same foundation.

Michael Shamos, who was the official examiner of electronic voting systems for Pennsylvania and Texas for 20 years, says there has not been a single verified incident of tampering with an electronic machine. For six years, he’s posted a challenge on the Internet offering $10,000 to anyone who can tamper undetectably with a DRE machine under real-world conditions. No one has claimed the money. “The worst thing we could do is listen to some of the activists, abandon the new technology and return to means of voting that are even less safe and accurate,” he says.

Fixes for the real problems with DREs are in the works. Woefully inadequate federal standards for testing voting machines are being toughened. A system is being developed in which each voter would receive a record of his choices that would be put into a code only decipherable by election judges. After the polls closed, all receipts would be posted on the Internet. Voters could use their serial number to find the image of their receipt, and make sure it matched the one they got at the polls.

But some states aren’t waiting. California is allowing some counties to use DREs only if they provide paper ballots for anyone who wants one, and letting others use optical-scan systems. The activists aren’t giving up, though. In Snohomish County, Wash., 50 protested at a rally this month against electronic machines. County Auditor Bob Terwilliger accepted their petition of 20,000 names. But he said he couldn’t help chuckling as he perused it. The “signatures” were electronic and on a computer printout he couldn’t verify.

Mr. Fund is a columnist for OpinionJournal.com. His book, “Stealing Elections,” will be published in September by Encounter Books.

Don’t worry, Michael Moore says he will be their with cameras and lawyers to make sure nobody is denied the right to vote. Because I’m sure a lot of people who were eligible and registered were turned away. Yeah,right. They don’t know how to vote, the machines don’t work, and they can’t count the votes so does it even really matter?

Well, I care. We should all be alarmed that these computer voting machines are hackable, according to investigators from Johns Hopkins. They said that electrronic voting machines didn’t meet the most basic federal standards for security. Credible reports that electronic voter fraud is possible, keep coming in. In California, the secretary of state nullified their contracts for electronic voting machines. It’s impossible to call this a fringe issue or conspiracy issue anymore.

I think it’s definitely a non-partisan issue to keep an eye on. We don’t want our election results to be determined by the party with the best hackers.

[quote]Lumpy wrote:
I think it’s definitely a non-partisan issue to keep an eye on. We don’t want our election results to be determined by the party with the best hackers.

Then tell me, Lumpy - Why don’t the Libs care about the irregularities in New Mexico, or Missouri, or Louisiana, or the Dakotas?

Listening to Gin-nosed Ted, or Yugos-for-everyone Gore, one would believe that the only place that there has ever been problems with the ballots is Florida. None of the libs even mention their attempts to throw out the military vote.

With an election this close, the problems of counting ballots will be magnified. That does not immediately signal fraud.

It’s getting really old listening to the dems call for UN monitoring of our elections.

[quote]Lumpy wrote:
We should all be alarmed that these computer voting machines are hackable, according to investigators from Johns Hopkins.[/quote]

All systems are hackable.

What we need is a nice, solid audit trail – and polling place personnel who actually understand something about computer security.

The problem with most DRE machines is that they are being built by Diebolt, which charges far too much money and does far too shitty a job. The design is completely half-assed. I could build a better voting machine for less than one percent of what they’re charging, and it’s not because I’m so great – it’s because this problem is NOT THAT HARD, if you’re at all competent in systems design.

I just said I care, ya dope!! EVERYONE should care!

Also, you are totally confusing the issues. Florida complaints were not related to computer voting. Florida complaints revolve around different voting systems used in different counties, certain voters being denied the chance to vote because their names were removed from election rolls, confusing “butterfly” ballots, and that type of thing… NOT computer voting issues.