Tag Archives: Voting Machines

scarborough, both sidesism, fbi, georgia is not a beacon of hope

Joe Scarborough, both-sideser in chief and head MSNBC misogynist is at it again this morning joined by his usual kiss ass crew.  He got in a little trouble yesterday by repeatedly asking guests whether it was necessary to impeach Trump.  The dreadful Mika told him to stop and he responded like the petulant bully he is, by berating her and trying to embarrass her on national television.

This morning, he and Peter Baker are trying to figure out how “we” can work with the Republicans like James Langford, who have suddenly had an attack of conscience over trying to overthrow an election.

But, for Scarborough and Baker, that’s just a minor blip.  Sedition?  Just apologize and Scarborough will find a way to launder your reputation (if you are a Repubican). 

Baker’s contribution to this was to lament the fact that, in his words, both sides have decided to go back into their partisan corners.  Equal corners, right?  One side is providing the rationale for sedition and the other is trying to restore democracy, but they are both equally to blame. 

On to other matters.

On Ari Melber’s MSNBC show last night, Eugene Robinson (Mr. Mild Manners himself) said that the Republicans created this division and now they are buying body armor.

AOC was evidently so afraid when the attack was going on, she was fearful of going into a safe room with Republicans.  She thought they might lead the attackers to her.  It was not an unreasonable suspicion since one of the members of the House was texting out the location of Nancy Pelosi.

Lindsey Graham characterized the impeachment proceedings as “sheer hatred.”  I can’t wait to find out why Graham did a 180 turn to support Trump.  Maybe if Trump gets more and more frustrated, he will start to spill the dirt. 

Rep Madeleine Dean, who will be one of the impeachment managers said “Lindsay Graham knows better.”   “You too” she said referring to Graham, “are complicit…” 

Trump evidently brought Bannon back into the sedition circle.  Roger Stone was the one who came up with the “Stop the Steal” rallying cry. 

Tony Schwartz is saying that Trump is now moving “between rage and delusion.”  And that Trump has unleashed forces that we may well see become more powerful in the future.  

Peter Strzok, former FBI, expressed “frustration and anger” at the lack of preparedness at the Capitol.  If you look at other events, Strzok argued: “The government can secure the capitol when it wants to and that didn’t happen here.”  Strzok said that the tour groups that evidently went through the Capitol the day before the assault needed to be “looked into.”

Elizabeth Newmann, former Assistant Secretary for Threat Presentation and Security Policy at DHS, explained that the Terrorist Watch List is a separate list from the No Fly List and is broader, larger.  She says it includes “suspected white supremacists.”  But, she also said, this list functions more as an alert system than a surveillance system.  If, for example, someone got arrested, law enforcement could run the name and the person would show up as on this Terrorist Watch List.  But, there is no ongoing surveillance on these people.  So, they could all decide to go to Washington at the same time and go and there would be no automatic alert because of this list.

Last night, Rachael Maddow was commenting on the absurdity of having people on this list, but not knowing that they were all converging on the same problematic location.  The only way law enforcement could know this is if these people were under constant surveillance and I’m not sure that’s what we want.

A number of people are already pointing out on Twitter and in articles that this siege of the Capitol may well end up working to the disadvantage of legitimate protest.  As always, it’s easy to argue for more surveillance of individuals when they are opposed to you politically.  But, these same surveillance measures can be turned quickly against legitimate protest.

I heard no discussion yesterday of the way in which a person might be put on this Terrorist Watch List.  Once on this list, are you ever taken off?  What surveillance measures can the government take after you are put on this list? These are questions we need to answer.

Newman, after explaining the list, went on to say that there was “no excuse for the lack of preparation” at the capitol.  She pointed out that that the Executive Branch, while reluctant to tell another branch of government what to do, has a “duty to warn” of dangerous situations.  They, for example, should have issued a “Joint Intelligence Bulletin.”  They did not.  “They knew that violence was planned” Newman continued.  “You always assume the worst, prepare for the worst…”

Petef Strzok expressed disappointment that we had not heard from Director Wray.  He wondered whether the FBI attempted to warn other agencies but was prevented from doing so.  Strzok didn’t say by whom. 

Anna Palmer noted that since the COVID outbreak, the Capitol had been like a “ghosttown.”  She noted the extensive security measures for even going into the Capitol as a reporter.  “It’s been months since people were even around” she noted.  These tours were highly unusual. 

Biden has named Jamaal Bowman head of the DNC.  It has not escaped notice that Bowman is against Medicare For All. 

And, lastly, in Georgia…

I had an interesting exchange with a friend on Facebook.  He commented that when the FBI asked all these low-level attackers who are being arrested if they had any coordination or contact with Congressmen or Trump, they would flip and implicate them.

I responded: True, if the FBI agents ask them.

Now, as usual, he took exception to this.  Most people, especially those who have worked around law enforcement accept a law enforcement ethos.  They resist any aspersions on the integrity of the force, even confronted with daily evidence to the contrary.

He responded in a curious way.  First he said that I shouldn’t paint all agents with a “broad brush.”  Seemed to me that he was painting them with a broad brush, just assuming that the FBI would be trying to turn offenders on higher ups.  Why this assumption is made, I don’t know. 

We have just witnessed years of the most curious behavior on the part of the FBI and the Justice Department in recent memory.  Why did James Comey make public the absurd reopening of the investigation of Hillary Clinton right before the 2016 election?  Why did he within the past few days argue publicly that Biden should pardon Trump?  What was going on in the New York City office of the FBI in 2016 that almost lead to a work stoppage?  These are just a few threads that need to be followed up here.  In addition, why was the Justice Department so easily compromised by Jeff Sessions and then Bill Barr?  Why was the Mueller investigation so limited as to make it meaningless?

I’m sorry, but I just don’t think we can assume that all those FBI agents out there are crusaders for justice especially when it comes to investigating people at the top of the food chain.  (See Jesse Eisinger’s “The Chickenshit Club.)

Then, my friend said that the last time he talked to me I was (overly) concerned “dismayed” with voter suppression in Georgia, and Georgia had become the beacon of election security.  Georgia, he said had become the “honest election state that is saving democracy. What truly happened?”

Now, I have no idea what this last paragraph has to do with FBI agents working overtime to get dirt on powerful Congressmen, but there you are.

I find the statement amazing.  I fully realize that the media, prone as they are to simplistic narratives, is trying to make heroes out of Raffensperger, Sterling and Kemp, but anybody who reads should know that Georgia is far from a beacon of hope.

Brian Kemp’s government spent a fortune on a fancy new voting machine system.  And they conducted a propaganda operation by replacing all the “I voted” material with “I secured my Vote.”  It was all a propaganda operation.  I did poll worker training in Georgia before the general and I left at lunch and didn’t go back.  It was obvious to me then that the new system was unwieldy and full of holes.  The measures taken to “secure the vote” were geared toward security threats in the 19th century.  Nobody could answer questions about hacking into the system. 

Even though the media has touted “paper ballots” as an indication of transparency, in Georgia, they are not really “paper ballots.”

The ballots are marked by a machine.  Then, the voter gets a sheet of paper which has his choices printed on it. The voter is supposed to check these choices to make sure they are right.  But, the scanners that count the votes do not even register the words printed on the ballot.  They count a bar code at the bottom of the ballot.  The voter cannot read the bar code.  The poll workers cannot read the bar code.  I don’t think anybody outside of the Voting Machine company can read the bar codes.  It’s protected by law.  What kind of state of affairs is that?

Before the general election, Brian Kemp’s government made a decision that any recount in Georgia would be done by simply feeding the same ballots (with the same bar codes) through the scanners again.

In short, Georgia spent a fortune on a voting system that is impenetrable.  They regularly send out “experts” who claim that the system cannot be hacked.  But, Jennifer Cohn, Jonathan Simon and the Coalition for Good Governance have repeatedly offered evidence that at best, we don’t know this.

In addition, Kemp is the king of voter suppression.  That’s how he won a race against Stacey Abrams for governor.  Raffensperger and Sterling were in the voter suppression game up to their eye balls.  Kemp, Raffensperger and Sterling are like the guys who are willing to drive the getaway car, but not willing to go into the liquor store with the gun.

Oh,

Just in case you hadn’t heard…Kyle Rittenhouse is out on bail and sitting in a bar drinking and yucking it up with the Proud Boys. Reality Winner has COVID and in still in jail.  I know she’s not receiving her mail because I have a box of returned letters.

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

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 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.

stealing the election: georgia

On Friday, 26 September 2020, the Secretary of State’s office in Georgia sent out a notification to county elections offices.  The notification alerted county officials that the state had discovered a programming error involving the state’s touchscreens.  These touchscreens are part of a new election system bought by Governor Brian Kemp’s administration that cost the taxpayers of Georgia almost $150 million. 

This expensive new voting system was pushed through right before the 2020 election despite warnings that it was too cumbersome and impossible to establish before the 2020 election.  Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger was quoted in February of 2020 as saying: “This is the fastest and the largest implementation that’s ever been done in America.”  

When poll worker training was started in Georgia, manuals were incomplete, and at least some devices were not working. 

The programming error found on Friday, will require the state to reprogram 30,000 new touchscreens called Ballot-Marking-Devices (BMDs).  It is difficult to see how this is possible before early voting starts on October 12.

The Coalition for Good Government discovered the flaw in the database hours after the SOS’s office notified county officials.

 According to Jeanne Dufort, an election security commentator (9/25/20, Twitter): the “flawed database that has halted critical election preparation in GA shows the risks of outsourced elections.  The SOS relied on the vendor to prepare election data bases for all GA counties, and failed to exercise proper oversight – putting the statewide election at risk.”

“We do not know the nature of the database flaw, other than it caused the state to stop LAT (Logic and Accuracy Testing), and inform counties completed LAT is wasted.”

Reading:

Gray, Justin (2/4/20) Georgia Sets up a New Voting System.  WSBTV uote fro Article: The new machines are more secure than Georgia’s old voting machines because they generate paper ballots.

https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/georgia-sets-up-new-voting-system-2020/BBKHZH5DOREF7MHSCRVEAHMXYU/

GPB Voting SYStem

https://www.gpb.org/news/2019/03/18/heres-what-vendors-say-it-would-cost-replace-georgias-voting-system

georgia: stealing the election

“Nothing should be more self-evident than the simple statement that for an election to have legitimacy, the counting process must be observable” Code Red by Jonathan Simon.

In many states, however, Republican party officials have worked to make sure that the counting process is not observable.  They have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to fool us into believing that we have a fair, observable system when we do not.

In the state of Georgia, to give but one example, the government of Brian Kemp (who himself benefited from vote manipulation that edged him into the governorship) is using tax payer money to make sure that the voting process is secret.

Georgia had used a paperless, touchscreen voting machine system since 2002.  When we voted, our votes disappeared into a cyber world that could not be checked, verified, or audited.

The state then ignored warnings from independent researchers that the system had been easily penetrated through the internet.  Because state officials refused to admit the problems with the system, it became necessary to file a lawsuit in 2017.  The problems were found by the court to be  so egregious, that in 2019, a federal court order had to be issued to require Georgia to stop using the all‑electronic voting system by year’s end because of the system’s proven vulnerability to cyberattack (Curling v. Raffensperger).

The response from Republican government officials was not to return to hand-marked paper ballots, but to spend over $100 million dollars on a new voting machine system that was designed not to secure the vote, but to convince voters (and the court) that votes were “secured.” 

In addition to the amount of money paid for the voting system, an untold amount of state money was used in a PR campaign to dupe the people of Georgia into believing that this new system was an improvement over the last one.  It was not.

What the new, outrageously expensive system did was to introduce a piece of paper into the process, what they called a “paper ballot,” that was printed by a machine.  Officials then crowed that the vote was verifiable.  And, they went around the state recruiting organizations and groups to pose with the new state “I Secured my Vote” propaganda.  But, the paper, the “ballot” was nothing more than a prop in the theatre production that was to look like an “election.”

The process works like this:

The voter’s identification is checked in on an electronic polling book (computer) that has records of registered voters.  If registered the voter is given a card. 

This card is inserted into another machine, a Ballot Marking Device (BMD).

The voter then touches a screen to record his/her votes.

When finished, the BMD issues a “ballot.”

So, the BMD records the vote and marks a “ballot” for the voter.  It then prints out that ballot with words that are said to reflect the voting preferences. 

The voter is asked (encouraged) to take that ballot to a different station and check the words to make sure that they accurately reflect the voting preferences, i.e., how you voted.

Then, the voter takes the ballot and feeds it into a scanner which records the vote.  The ballots collect inside the scanner which looks (ironically enough) like an enormous trash can.

Now, first of all, every polling place is mandated to stock readers, glasses that magnify the words on the ballot because the print is so small.  This obviously in and of itself discourages voters from checking the ballots.   

But, more importantly, what they don’t tell the voter is that the words on the ballot are not what is counted when s/he puts the ballot into the scanner.  The words, the ones telling the voter who s/he voted for are meaningless gibberish.  They are decoration, props.  The words printed on the “ballot” have no relation to the vote counted by the scanner. 

What the scanner counts is a bar code printed at the bottom of the ballot.  You cannot read the barcode.  In most cases, not even computer experts can read the barcode in these electronic voting systems.  You have no idea what the scanner records, and you cannot check it with readers or without them.

So, just imagine this.  You vote on a machine, it prints out words on a piece of paper that reflect who you voted for.  You check these words to make sure that they reflect who you voted for.  You put this paper in the scanner and this machine records not what you checked, but something you cannot check, a barcode at the bottom of the page.  You have been duped.

But, you might say, these ballots are still paper, physical, they can be recounted if there is a problem.  This is better than the completely paperless system before.  Perhaps, but this actually makes no difference if the recount does not examine the words printed on the ballot. 

The state of Georgia has made clear that any recount (and recounts are not easy to get) will only involve running the ballots through the scanner again, a second time.  They have explicitly stated that there will be no examination of the match between the printed words and the barcodes.

So, the new voting system is designed not to provide a “transparent, fair, accurate, and verifiable election processes…” (as U.S. District Judge Totenberg mandated in 2019) but exactly the opposite.  The new voting system is engineered to make people believe that it is transparent and verifiable, and to give them pieces of paper they can hold and “check” in order to fool them. 

Judge Totenberg held a hearing this week to consider a preliminary injunction brought on behalf of the people of Georgia, to force the state to use hand-marked paper ballots in the November election for people who are voting in person.

But, after spending the outrageous $100 million for the new voting system/propaganda system, the lawyers for the state of Georgia maintain that this would be too expensive and too cumbersome.

We must start asking and demanding answers to questions about why the state of Georgia spent this enormous amount of money on a voting system that doesn’t ensure transparency and now is spending more money fighting measures to try to ensure transparency.

Georgia Justice: Voting Machines and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Stenographic Reporting

mark niesse

This is a short article, a small point, but ideology and attitudes are made up of countless small points, repeatedly pounded home that go into constructing people’s opinions.

This is an article that appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today.

Article: https://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/amid-budget-cuts-georgia-pays-keep-old-voting-machines-storage/lPTO8DwteQouaFssNpImeN/?utm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=campaign_1220886

Niesse, Mark (5/15/20) “Amid budget cuts, Georgia pays to keep old voting machines in storage.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

First, there is the headline.  The headline opposes the budget cuts from the state of Georgia and the money being spent to house voting machines used in the 2016 (and I think 2018) elections.  The obvious message is that we are wasting tax payer money to house unneeded voting machines when we are in the middle of deep budget cuts.

Here is the first sentence of the article:

“As Georgia is preparing for deep budget cuts, the state government is paying $432,000 a year to store 30,000 voting machines that will never be used again.”

First, as a reader pointed out, why should it cost almost half a million dollars to store some voting machines for a year?

Second,  the reporter is asserting something he has no knowledge of, that is whether the machines will be “used” again.  The voting machines will certainly be used again if they are evidence in a lawsuit to see whether there were election improprieties.  And, that impropriety will certainly not be uncovered if the voting machines are destroyed.

So, the argument that the reporter is just reporting the facts is clearly absurd.  It is not a fact that these machines will “never be used again.”  This is an assumption on the part of the reporter, clearly the assumption that the state of Georgia wants people to believe.

So, why does the reporter take on as fact an assumption that supports the state’s side in this dispute over the voting machines?

An attorney for the secretary of state’s office, Bryan Tyson, in a letter on May 9, asserts:

“Continuing to preserve the DREs (the voting machines) at a significant cost to Georgia taxpayers in times of national crisis for state budgets across the country is wasteful and unnecessary.”  This was a letter directed toward the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the citizens of Georgia who want to know whether or not these voting machines were compromised in some way.

The citizens involved want to preserve the machines, to find out whether “viruses or malware” which might have infected the machines might have spread to the state’s replacement voting system.

There has been a proposal to destroy two-thirds of the machines but no agreement on which machines to dispose of.  This makes perfect sense.  If the machines were infected, why destroy any of the evidence that might demonstrate that fact?

“We’ve tried to work with them,” said David Cross, an attorney for a group of plaintiffs suing the state. “If we could at least do an analysis of a reliable statistical sample, we could see if the old system was compromised.”

This seems to be a reasonable position.  But, the reporter after noting that statement, then repeats the scare statistics of budget cuts as if this had anything to do with the voting machines.

“All state agencies, including the secretary of state’s office, are planning for 14% budget cuts in the upcoming fiscal year — more than $3.5 billion.  The secretary of state’s office is preparing to slice $3.2 million from its $24 million budget through a hiring freeze, licensing board changes and leaving some positions unfilled, Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said.”

“There are so many ways we could spend money outside storage costs,” Fuchs said. “We could use that for fighting real security threats rather than activist’s lawsuits.”

That’s how the reporter chooses to end the article, with a statement by the Deputy Secretary of State calling the people on the other side of the lawsuit “activists” (which I presume is in his mind a negative thing) and maintaining that this fight is not about “real security threats.”

The AJC reporter should be ashamed of this stenographic reporting.

I am a resident of Georgia.  I am tired of the graft, corruption, hubris and collusion that goes into making the state government part of the Republican for-profit free-for-all con game.