Surprising statements by Denise Merrill and Neil Jenkins

Denise Merrill, Secretary of the State and President of the National Association of Secretaries of State and Neil Jenkins from Homeland Security spoke on NPR on election integrity.  <listen>

We disagree with both their similar statements:

.”Because our system is highly decentralized there’s no way to disrupt the voting process in any large-scale meaningful way through cyber attacks because there’s no national system to attack,” [Merrill] said Tuesday at a hearing before the U.S. Election Assistance Commission on the impact of the critical infrastructure designation.

Jenkins was quoted as saying “having thousands of elections offices each with their own systems making hacking elections nearly impossible”

Trick n Tweet: The Age of the Unsound Bite

I was going to write a post discussing the allegations of “widespread illegal immigrant voter fraud”. Yet, voter fraud is not the problem; Russian hacking is not the problem; Immigrants are not the problem; How many attended the inauguration is not the issue.

The problem is that, like Three Card Monte, the controversy takes our our attention off the real issues.

Another Annotation: Don’t stop being concerned about election integrity.

Lately the news is filled with Donald Trump saying the election is rigged and with election officials and others saying that is impossible.  We continue to disagree with both. As we have said:

The truth is that there is no more or less risk to elections this year than in the recent past. The bad news is that the risks of election skullduggery are significant and do not come only from one adversary.

So, lets annotate a recent Op-Ed in the Hartford Courant: Nothing Rigged About American Elections

A Meeting, A Hearing, and Lots of Nonsense

In the last two weeks there was a meeting of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and a hearing of the House Science and Technology Committee on “Cyber and Voting Machine Attacks”.  In total there were seven “experts” giving their opinions along with many of the committee members giving theirs. For the most part, solid facts and reason were missing.  The general plan seemed to be officials going overboard in reassuring the public.

Skeptics Guide Part 2: Absence of Evidence is Not Evidence of Absence

A couple of weeks ago, based on claims that exit polls showed that the primary was stolen from Bernie Sanders, I said: “I stand with Carl Sagan who said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Now we have the reverse situation from the NYTimes: Exit Polls, and Why the Primary Was Not Stolen From Bernie Sanders <read>

I seems like a pretty good case that the exit polls do not prove  the election was stolen.

Unfortunately, the Times headline is incorrect.  This evidence in this article only claims  that the exit polls do not prove that Bernie won. There is no proof that the official results are correct.  They may be, they may not be.  We still need Evidence Based Elections, providing strong evidence that the results are correct.

Sierra Club pitches nonscience nonsense for obscure company

It seems that for the Sierra Club, reason and science end at the edge of the environment.  They are now touting a product for Internet voting from a company that simultaneously claims that they have a product that is “a revolutionary mobile voting platform designed to securely cast votes in elections across the globe.” while running a Contest  awarding $230,000 to actually accomplish that “In this Challenge, we are asking Solvers for help in overcoming the significant obstacles that stand in the way of bringing safe, secure, and easy voting to people worldwide.”

NonScience Nonsense, another claim of electronic voting security

In late June a respected source published a non-peer-reviewed article: The case for election technology Which despite its title is actually a marketing piece disguised as science, not for election technology but for electronic voting, including Internet voting. The case actually made is for skepticism and peer-review.

That skepticism is well addressed in posts by Jeremy Epstein and E. John Sebes: How not to measure security and A Hacked Case For Election Technology

Top security official, spouts NonScience Nonsense

Comey’s problem is the nearly universal agreement among cryptographers, technologists and security experts that there is no way to give the government access to encrypted communications without poking an exploitable hole that would put confidential data, as well as entities like banks and power grids, at risk.

Non-Science: “What you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

Non-Science Nonsense is bad enough. But even worse is what we all thing is true that is not.  Five examples from just the FBI and our common understanding, as articulated in The Intercept: Five Disturbing Things You Didn’t Know About Forensic “Science”

When it comes to voting, the public, election officials, and legislators believe many false facts,

Ignore this post – it is based on facts and reason.

Like Don Quixote, we have spend almost seven years tilting at myths. Unlike Don, we arm our posts with facts and reason. According to a new report, that is a losing strategy.

Note: That report itself is based on facts, reason, and that most untrusted Science, known as statistics. Therefore, it is unlikely that the report will make a significant difference.

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