Category Archives: Voting Machines

please don’t try to make voter suppression prince, brad raffensperger, a hero

John Nichols in The Nation

https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/georgia-secretary-state-recall/#:~:text=Raffensperger%2C%20the%20petition%20asserts%2C%20%E2%80%9Chas%20proven%20himself%20incompetent,a%20part%20of%20the%20fight%20against%20voter%20suppression.

ESSENTIAL PODCAST: DECONSTRUCTED INTERVIEW WITH PROGRESSIVE MIKE SIEGEL

Essential Podcasts: Deconstructed (Episode 11/6/20)

Mike Siegel, progressive candidate for the House in Texas is interviewed by Deconstructed. The district Siegel ran in was drawn to be permanently Republican through gerrymandering.  

  • According to Siegel, the Democratic Party has a narrow range of issues it “recommends” their candidates run on.  The Party does the research, the polling, and tell the candidate what they should do.  If they receive any push back, it is possible for them to withdraw funds and ruin the campaign, so most candidates find themselves in a position to go along.
  • Party pollsters do the research and tell the candidate what the talking points are, what segment of the voting population the candidate should reach. 
  • Organizing with poor people is a long difficult process and it doesn’t appeal to the donor class.  As Siegal says, “We need to get out the non-voters.” 
  • The Party, Siegal says is “too invested in conservative donors”  These donors are “moderating the message” so that only an extremely narrow set of issues is ever talked about.  “They (the party operatives) are cynical about democracy…” 
  • Party consultants produce TV ads in a quick time frame.  Then, they come to the candidate and say: Give me this many dollars, we can run this may ads, we can expect this much shift in the polling.
  • The consultants tell the candidates: We made 2,000 calls, these are the issues that matter.  These are the issues you should stress.  These are the talking points.  As Siegel says,   “it’s relatively conservative.”
  • The consultants do their research and say your issue is, for example, health care, these are the talking points.
  • As Siegel says of the party consultants: “They completely narrow what they think you can accomplish.”
  • If the candidate disagrees or tries to change the messaging of the campaign, the consultants say: “That doesn’t poll quite as well as health care.”
  • “At every point they (the consultants) push back against you.”
  • As Siegel points out, there are not pollsters and consultants who work with a populist message.  There are no people you can hire who know how to run what Siegel calls a “left campaign.” 
  • The framework, according to Siegel, is how can you raise and spend x dollars and change vote this much. 
  • Siegel challenged one of the wealthiest members of congress, and had a lot of progressive support, but came up short.  
  • Siegel says: “We need to do deep organizing.”

But, the take-away from the interview is that the Democratic Party, their donors and their elite consultants have no interest in “deep organizing.”  Deep organizing takes time and money and an actual interest in the problems of working and lower class people.  It involves demonstrating to people who have seen politicians come and go and their lives not change, that politics is important to them.  The issue is demonstrating this, not just telling them.

Another problem is that the Democratic party is a party obsessed with technocratic solutions.  One of the points that screams out from this interview with Siegel is that pollsters are dominating party strategy.  These are the same pollsters who (based on their scientific models) predicted landslides in 2016 and 2020.  Either their technology was wrong, or Republicans are systematically stealing elections through electronic voting manipulation.  There are no other options.  But, electronic voting manipulation is an issue that Democrats consistently refuse to talk about.  In fact, just raising the issue provokes angry denials and even more angry accusations about the motivations of people who talk about the issue.  It is the unspeakable topic.

The Party pollsters would rather point to their own failures in predicting the outcomes of the last two elections than admit that the vast difference between the poll numbers and the election results might be the product of cheating.  There is a very good reason for this.  If, in fact, Republicans are cheating, systematically, repeatedly then pollsters become irrelevant.  The last thing they want to be is irrelevant because they would then be out of business. 

So, the consultants and pollsters themselves acknowledge that their predictions have been wildly inaccurate, but they are still put in the position of essentially determining the way individual Democratic campaigns are run.  How does this make sense? 

You can follow me on Twitter @cjjohns1951

FAIR ELECTION? “i SEE NO PROGRESS TOWARDS AN EVIDENCE-BASED ELECTION.”

Jennifer Cohn, an election security advocate, writer, and attorney is essential reading if you are at all interested in fair elections.  One of the downsides to Biden winning the 2020 election is that everybody wants to go home, drink and relax.  As women keep saying to me, they want to get back to “normal.”  But, “normal” brought us here and as in the quote from Thomas Wolfe: “You can’t go home again.”  Normal, or what people are referring to as normal, is over.  It will never return, at least not in our lifetimes.  In fact, normal on the political scene has been over for a long time, at least since 2000.  Most people just never noticed.

I don’t claim to understand what happened in the election of 2020.  I was certain that the Republicans would cheat electronically just like they cheated when wiping hundreds of thousands of people off the voter rolls, enacting laws that acted as voter suppression, closed down polling places, decreased hours for voting, sabotaged the post office in an attempt to slow if not stall the movement of votes and tried the best they could to restrict mail-in voting.

They lost at least at the presidential level.  They didn’t lose outright at the state level.  The Democrats actually lost seats in the House and they are fighting for their lives in the Senate.  Once again, the polls predicted a landslide for Biden.  He barely squeaked through.  They predicted losses in the Senate, but Collins and McConnell and others won.  The two Republicans running for Senate in Georgia will most probably win.

But, since we cannot see into the vote count, because machines count our votes and partisans in the race control the voting process, how would we know what happened, really? 

As Jennifer Cohn tweeted today:

•        “Polls predicted Trump would lost in a landslide, Rs blocked robust election audits (#SAFEAct), GOP senate wins are red shifted, voters lack means to investigate, DEM leaders won’t do it, and Rs are the ones screaming fraud.  I see no progress toward evidence-based elections.”

•        “Evidence-based elections are the only way to know if electronic election outcomes are legitimate.  They require hand Marked Paper Ballots plus robust manual audits plus a secure and transparent (perhaps videotaped) chain of custody through conclusion of the audit.”

•        “I worry we win a battle only to soon lose a war.”

•        “The next four years will be hell if the GOP maintains control of the Senate.  The next election could be hell too.  And I see no Democrats discussing the possibility that the GOP cheated.  I hope they are just waiting until Ds Hopefully win the senate.”

•        “…Those of us not in Congress must…continue to sound the alarm re some of these unexpected red shifts and other anomalies favoring Rs.”

•        “…Rs and right-wing media will spend the next 4 years claiming falsely that Biden is illegitimate when it was Republicans that blocked progress toward evidence-based elections and, if anything, it is suspicious that Trump and the GOP did as well as they did.”

•        “We cannot let Rs spin this faulty narrative…the GOP steadfastly blocked efforts to move to evidence-based elections and that DeJoy engaged in highly suspect conduct with vote by mail.  WE MUST STAND FOR EVIDENCE BASED ELECTIONS.

Nevada: stop the count

5:00 PM

The Nevada Independent is reporting that Trump’s campaign and Nevada Republican Party officials have filed an emergency appeal requesting the Nevada Supreme Court to immediately order Clark County to stop processing mail ballots.

Even though a District Court last week, issued an order denying their request, they have gone to the Nevada Supreme Court. The request is for Clark County to stop using an automatic signature verification machine and to stop “duplication” of all mail ballots. The “duplication” occurs when a mail in ballot has something wrong with it that prevents it being processed by a machine, so another ballot is created to record the vote.

If Clark County doesn’t immediately stop counting, the attorneys argue, “Nevadans – and the rest of the country – will be left wondering whether the results of the election are legitimate.”

The Registrar of Voters in Clark County has stated that if the use of the signature verification machine is stopped, it is unlikely that they will be able to complete the counting of ballots by the deadline set by state law.

And, this is exactly the intent. The Republicans will do anything to win, anything.

We don’t need voluntary capitulation

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Even though a Texas Judge ruled that Republicans who sought to throw out 127,000 ballots cast in drive-thru locations in Harris County, Texas did not have standing, Harris County decided to close down most of its drive-thru voting locations overnight.  Why?  The judge in the case, Andrew Hanen, found it necessary to go beyond the legal issues and advance his own political agenda in his opinion.  Hanen wrote that he wouldn’t vote in these drive-thru voting locations, legal or not.

So, this is where we are in this country.  The court now does not even have to rule against the forces of democracy for a county to voluntarily close down entirely legal voting options.

The County Clerk admits that Republicans are pursuing a strategy of trying to keep Americans from voting, and defends the decision as one which will protect votes.  But, in closing down the voting locations what he does, in the long run, is to encourage Repubicans to do exactly what they have done in this case, i.e., bring a completely baseless lawsuit that clearly has no legitimate basis and use it as intimidation to suppress voting.   

It is not the first time Hanen has used his judicial opinions to go beyond the legal issue at hand and pursue his ideological agenda.  He is in fact notorious for doing so. These are the kinds of judges McConnell and the Republicans have stacked the courts with. 

Make no mistake, when Republicans claim that they oppose “activist judges” they are lying.  They support “activist judges” and are appointing them at record levels. 

There are Democrats in the Senate who are complicit in this packing of the courts with right-wing activists.  And, voluntary capitulation is a characteristic of a country descending into authoritarianism.   

Exit polls, already warning us that they are unreliable

Monday, 2 November 2020

At a time when many people who have read the information about electronic vote manipulation seriously question the integrity of the vote count in the coming election, FiveThirtyEight, one of the most visible of the polling companies, is already warning us that exit polling will be “even less reliable this year.” 

Even though exit polling is extensively used all over the world to monitor the possibility of fraudulent elections, U.S. polling firms and media outlets maintain that their exit polling cannot be used to monitor election integrity.  They say that their exit polls are not designed to detect fraud, but to predict elections and flesh out demographics.

Even when the vote count has been widely different from the exit polling, professional pollsters and corporate media pundits have denied even the possibility of fraud in this country. 

But, as election integrity expert Jonathan Simon notes in his book “Code Red,” 

“America’s electoral system has been corrupted in the most direct and fundamental of ways: the computers that now count virtually all our votes in secret can be—and, the evidence indicates, have been—programmed to cheat…”

And, if the Republicans cheat in this election and eke out tiny margin of victory across a few key states, how will that cheating be uncovered?  We as a country have allowed Republicans (and to a certain extent Democrats) to bury the vote counting process in the secrecy of electronic vote counting systems that cannot be meaningfully audited. 

Again, Simon:

“We continued merrily on our way, election to computerized election, sending our votes into the partisan pitch-dark of cyberspace with nothing much besides our thoughts and prayers to protect them.”

STEALING THE ELECTION: GEORGIA

The state of Georgia sent a memo today to all County Registrars. In this memo, headed “Be wary of false and misleading information re: ICX update” the State of Georgia accused attorneys involved in litigation of “false and misleading allegations.”

The memo, which is in tone and content, completely unprofessional, Chris Harvey, Elections Division warns county election officials about correspondence they “may have received” from “activists.”

The “activists” in question are attorneys who are fighting in court to try to ensure that the state of Georgia does not install a last-minute update to the software in Dominion voting machines used across the state.

Warning county officials, the state writes:

“These activists have been suing the state and Georgia counties for years because they disagree with the decision of the Georgia General Assembly to use electronic ballot-marking devices instead of hand-marked paper ballots. Because their preferred policy was not enacted, they have tried to force their preferred policy on the state through litigation. The latest correspondence makes false and misleading allegations regarding the recent update to the ICX (touchscreen) component of Georgia’s voting system.”

The updates to the software were said to be necessary because of problems that arose with the Dominion voting system at the beginning of recent testing for the upcoming election.

Attorneys trying to bring some transparency to this update process have been dismissed as has their case. The SOS’s office is arguing that updates do not have to be verified or certified. The citizens of Georgia should just trust them to reprogram voting machines less than two weeks before early voting begins.

stealing the vote: state developments

STEALING THE VOTE:

•       The Supreme Court has sided with South Carolina Republicans attempting to suppress the vote by reinstating a law requiring witness signature for mail-in ballots.  This decreases the vote by making it more difficult for people to vote, requiring them to risk COVID by having someone else witness the ballot, and provides yet another point top invalidate votes (the verifying and matching of the witness signature). 

•       In Florida, the voter registration website crashed and stayed down for several hours on Monday, the deadline to register.  Again, every obstacle decreases the vote which is what the Republicans are counting on.

•       In Iowa, Republicans blocked sending out ballots that had pre-filled voter information on them. Tens of thousands of ballots were invalidated.  This means confusion, the likelihood that people will send in the wrong ballot, and the necessity of the state to send out replacement ballots a month before the election.

These are three incidents in three states, being replicated all over the country.    

 In Georgia, software on all the states voting machines is being replaced A MONTH BEFORE THE ELECTION.  This software change is being done by the voting machine company, unverified, unexamined, and uncertified. 

The Republicans are pulling out all the stops.  They have too much at stake to lose this election.  They are going to lie, cheat and finally steal this election and the Democrats and the media are going to be caught off guard.  VOTING IS NOT GOING TO BE ENOUGH.

And: Pennsylvania’s online system for registering to vote and applying for and tracking mail ballots crashed over the weekend, triggering an outage that stretched for more than 24 hours and prompted frustration from voters weeks before critical election deadlines.

stealing the election: georgia problems with the $104 million dollar voting system

Court Hearing: Georgia

In a hearing conducted this morning in federal court in Georgia, the Secretary of State’s (SOS’s) office and the Coalition for Good Governance (CFGG) sparred over errors already found in the new $104 million (at least) electronic voting machine system Brian Kemp’s government bought and paid for with taxpayer money.

On Friday, the SOS’s office issued a bulletin to all of Georgia’s 159 counties telling them to stop Logistics and Analysis (L&A) testing of election devices and systems. The SOS’s office said that an error had been uncovered in the database and the entire database would have to be replaced. 

The error had evidently caused candidates in a multi-candidate race to disappear from the screen, the “disappearing colum” problem.

In court on Monday morning the SOS’S office changed their position and said that would not have to replace the database. They were instead changing the software.

This information was news to the Coalition for Good Governance (CFGG).  They, like the rest of the public, were under the assumption that the database would be replaced.  Lawyers for CFGG argued that changing of the software after voting had already begun was an even more serious problem than replacing the database.

And, CFGG argued that there was not (as the SOS’S office had maintained) just one problem.  There were three problems uncovered by Georgia counties once they started testing. According to CFGG, the State had disclosed one problem but not all of the problems.

Three Problems Not Just One

As lawyers for CFGG pointed out, the State had disclosed only one problem but not two other problems that CFGG had been made aware of. 

Because of a subpoena, lawyers for CFGG were supposed to witness the testing of a scanner in Cherokee County, Georgia.  But, when CFGG contacted Cherokee County to arrange for this witnessing, officials told them that they could come but that the scanner wasn’t recording votes.  This problem was a different problem than the “disappearing column” one reported to the press by the SOS.  The attorney for CFGG noted that he had talked with officials in Cherokee County Monday morning and the scanner was still not working.

The other, third problem the SOS was not disclosing was a problem in Irwin County, where votes for a write-in candidate were not registering at all.  

Lawyers for the SOS’S office basically dismissed concerns expressed over all of the problems, accusing the CFGG of making mountains out of molehills. 

The Seriousness of the Problem

In the hearing, the SOS repeatedly minimized the seriousness of the problems and expressed contempt for the lawyers at CFGG. At one point, the SOS’s office argued that the robustness of their testing ensured that problems like the “disappearing columns” problem would not only be found but would be corrected. 

The CFGG argued, however, that just because one needle is found hidden in the haystack, that doesn’t mean that the location of all the other needles was known.  The SOS found out about the “disappearing column” problem, argued the CFGG attorney by accident, a “freakish” discovery.  Just because this problem was uncovered in testing that didn’t mean that ALL problems were discovered or wound be discovered.  There is no way of knowing how many other problems there are out there that haven’t been reported or have been dismissed. 

The SOS’s office repeatedly in the hearing tried to behave as if the “disappearing column” problem was the only problem and that this problem was “diminimus” meaning not very serious.   Evidently in state law, if a problem with the voting system is deemed to be “diminimus” then there are certain actions that aren’t required.  In other words, if the problem is deemed not to be serious, serious actions doesn’t need to be taken. 

SOS officials argued that some testing lab (what lab?) found the “disappearing column” problem to be “diminimus.” What we don’t know is what procedure was used for declaring the problem to be “diminimus?”  And, this completely ignores the other problems.

Anybody with a brain would question this determination.  Who decides that a problem with the election system is “not serious” as opposed to “serious?”  What are the rules about establishing a “serious” as opposed to a “non serious” problem. 

But, in court this morning, the SOS’s office tried to trivialize these questions and also to assert dominion over the issue.   Gabriel Sterling, for the SOS;s office, stated: “That is how it’s done and that is how we will continue to do it.”  The authoritarian tone of that statement is inescapable.

The “Disappearing Column” Problem

As mentioned earlier, the State’s argument in the hearing was that the system’s testing regime is so “robust” that it found the “disappearing column” problem and that it will find all the other possible problems.

The State argued that the “disappearing column” problem occurred only when a specific behavior pattern is exhibited by the voter.  What this means is that if the voter is looking at the screen where the state has listed multiple candidates and then flips back a screen to look at a previous screen (for example, to double check a choice) that is when the “disappearing screen” occurs.  My understanding from the hearing is that the State maintains that the “disappearing screen” doesn’t happen every time a voter goes back a screen, just sometimes.  

This is a $104 million (at least) voting system.  But, voters moving back and forth between screens either checking a previous choice or through error, throws the entire system into chaos and makes legally eligible candidates disappear off the voting screen.  The State argued that voters rarely choose to move back to check another screen.  But, THEY DON’T KNOW THIS.  How would they know this?

And why with a $104 system, hasn’t somebody thought about the possibility of a voter flipping back a screen? Flipping from screen to screen is something that anybody who uses a computer does every day.  $104 million and this is a problem? 

The Numbers in the Name Problem

Not only have the architects of a $104 million system not ever thought of the possibility of voters flipping back and forth between screens, they also haven’t thought of other possibilities. The “disappearing column” problem is one issue and evidently the one the State of Georgia has chosen to deal with. But there are two other problems.

In Irwin County, election officials were so conscientious in their testing that they made sure that every write-in candidate would be recorded.  Because the state certifies qualified write-in candidates and sends a list to county officials, the head of elections in Irwin county decided to check those names against the machines. 

What he found was that one write-in candidate couldn’t be chosen.  The machine wouldn’t accept the choice.  The reason?  The candidate had numbers in his name.  Using a $104 million voting system, this is a problem.   The candidate chose to use the name PresidentR19boddie.  Why?  I have no idea.

But, because the officials in Irwin County were conscientious, they made sure that a vote for any of the write-in candidates would be recorded.  What they found was that the program would only allow letters, not numerals.  Again, this is a $104 million voting system. 

The Scanner Problem in Cherokee County

Because of a subpoena granted in the lawsuit brought by CFGG, experts from CFGG were supposed to witness the functioning or testing of a scanner in Cherokee County.  When lawyers from CFGG contacted Cherokee County to arrange this witnessing, the officials told CFGG that they could come to Cherokee county, but the scanner wasn’t working.  

According to lawyers from CFGG speaking during the hearing on Monday morning, they contacted the SOS’s office multiple times during the weekend to alert them to the problem in Cherokee County.  The SOS’s office ignored them and didn’t even respond.  Lawyers from the CFGG pointed out to the State that this problem was different from the one the State was alerting counties about with the “disappearing columns.”  But, as the lawyers from CFGG characterized it there were “crickets.”

In the hearing, lawyers for the SOS’s office maintained that they were not aware of the problem in Cherokee County.  Lawyers for the CFGG pointed out that they had repeatedly notified the state and had talked to Cherokee County on Monday morning and confirmed that the scanner was still not working.

Confusion

The CFGG attorneys also pointed out in the hearing that whatever the problems were, even after the bulletin issued by the SOS’s office to stop L&A analysis, some counties were proceeding.  So, it appeared that some counties hadn’t even understood the bulletin.  There was confusion among the county officials.

Software

In the end, SOS officials claimed that they were going to change not the database, as they had told the counties on Friday, but the software.  In the hearing at least the question of who was going to approve of, check, and certify this change in software was not answered. 

Elections security expert Jennifer Cohn argued that this change of the software was even more serious and fraught with potential for security risks than a change in the database.