Skulduggery and Errors

Election News Roundup

Several instructive articles and events this week.

  • Last week, Secretary of the State and President of NASS (National Association of Secretaries of  State) held a press conference discussing Donald Trump’s allegations of 3 Million “Illegals” Voting.  Secretary Merrill Challenges President’s Reported Claims of Illegal Voting
  • Meanwhile, at least, Connecticut is no Kansas: The Kansas Model for Voter-Fraud Bluffing
  • Here an article I generally agree with from Forbes: What The Election Can Teach Us About Cybersecurity
  • Speaking of attacks on voter databases here is a story from this fall: Hackers hit Henry County voter database

Will good help be available from Homeland Security, and will Connecticut ask for it?

The Department of Homeland Security has designated Election Infrastructure as Critical Infrastructure. We ask three questions.  We would like to see evaluations in Connecticut.

We emphasize thesee’ as secret evaluations would do little to provide the public assurance, and likely as not, would be available one way or another to those bent on using them to exploit weaknesses in the system.

New Haven Set To Repeat 2014 Disaster

! W A R N I N G !

Do not wait till the last minute.  Do not wait to the last hour.  Get there early if you want to use Election Day Registration!

NOTE: This is also a tale of how elections work in a state with a Secretary of the State with limited powers over underpaid, and occasionally resistant/obstinate local registrars.  (The same registrars who are often cited by state officials as the reason we will have no problems in our elections this year.  Read here how they handle their joint responsibility.)

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

Secret Ballot and Constitution under assault in Connecticut by AP and Secretary of the State’s Office

One AP story, two different versions in the Connecticut Post and the Hartford Courant.

As we said in our comment on the Connecticut Post article:

Connecticut has this other thing called the Constitution. It is even available at the Secretary’s website. It says: “The right of secret voting shall be preserved.”, which would likely be interpreted as not taking a picture of your ballot such that you could prove how it was voted. Otherwise votes could easily be bought, sold or intimidated. http://www.ct.gov/sots/cwp/view.asp?q=392288

UPDATED: Not a hack, breathe easy! PS: 1000’s of registrations changed

Obviously it was only incompetence and likely fraud, unless officials are mistaken. Indiana official: Altered voter registrations raise concerns

******Update: Clarified? It could also be a witch hunt

Security Against Election Hacking

From Freedom to Tinker, Andrew Appel: Security against Election Hacking – Part 1: Software Independence <read>

We have heard a lot lately about the vulnerabilities of our elections to hacking.  Both cyberhacking and unsophisticated insider attacks. Andrew Appel describes some common sense approaches to detect and deter error and fraud in our elections, covering three major vulnerabilities:

  • Incorrect or unavailable poolbooks.
  • Voting machines
  • Accumulation of results across polling places and jurisdictions

Report: Secret Ballot At Risk

A new report from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, articulates some of the risks of losing the the Secret Ballot: Secret Ballot At Risk: Recommendations for Protecting Democracy <Exec Summary> <Report>

We recommend reading the Executive Summary and at least the section of the report covering the history of and the need for the secret ballot, pages 4-9 and the section for your state, e.g. Connecticut pages 54-55.

Our only criticism is that the report does not cover the risks to the secret ballot and democracy posed by photos, most often seen in selfies of voters with the voted ballot taken in the voting booth.  Nor does it cover the risks  to the secret ballot posed by absentee voting.

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.

Book Review: Down for the Count

Down for the Count: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America
by Andrew Gumbel.  An updated version of Gumbel’s earlier Steal This Vote.  A lot has happened in 12 years!

I highly recommend, for an overview of the history of voting issues in the United States.. I can add a small caveat the to the description on Amazon:

Down for the Count explores the tawdry history of elections in the United States—a chronicle of votes bought, stolen, suppressed, lost, miscounted, thrown into rivers, and litigated up to the U.S. Supreme Court—and uses it to explain why we are now experiencing the biggest backslide in voting rights in more than a century…

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