Skulduggery and Errors

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…

Voter Suppression is not just Southern, Intentional, and Advantageous to those in charge.

Typically the Justice Department goes after Southern states, alleging intentional voter suppression by Republicans against voters who would be expected to vote predominately Democratic. To me, it usually quacks like that duck. Not so in Connecticut, we apparently do it through incompetence at our “legend in its own line”, DMV.

Hartford Courant, Jon Lender: Officials Tense, Tight-Lipped On Feds’ Probe Of State ‘Motor Voter’ Program <read>

Bloomberg Businessweek: A Decade Hacking Elections

From Bloomberg Businessweek: How to Hack an Election: <read>

Rendón, says Sepúlveda, saw that hackers could be completely integrated into a modern political operation, running attack ads, researching the opposition, and finding ways to suppress a foe’s turnout. As for Sepúlveda, his insight was to understand that voters trusted what they thought were spontaneous expressions of real people on social media more than they did experts on television and in newspapers. He knew that accounts could be faked and social media trends fabricated, all relatively cheaply. He wrote a software program, now called Social Media Predator, to manage and direct a virtual army of fake Twitter accounts
“Having a phone hacked by the opposition is not a novelty. When I work on a campaign, the assumption is that everything I talk about on the phone will be heard by the opponents.”

We note that similar issues have been raised in our current primary season. With charges and verifications that Twitter followers of at least one candidate appear to be largely fake accounts, along with unverified accusations that campaigns and their databases have been infiltrated, web access disrupted at critical times.  Given the current state of web  security, we see no reason that the same has, is, and will go on in our U.S. Elections.

It is best to be skeptical of anything you read in any media.  On the campaign trail assume the video is always on and every keystroke is captured by the opposition, media, and Government.  As always authenticity makes life simpler.

Arizona should not go away.

Certainly the officials in Arizona would like the interest in what happened in the primary to wane. It should not.  Democracy deserves better than this.

It is typically a high bar to re-run an election, maybe too high.  Typically you need to prove that enough voters would have been disenfranchised to change the result.  Sometimes as far as proving they would have voted for the looser.  Arizona’s Democratic Primary is near that bar.  In fact, if we consider the number of votes that would have awarded one more and one less delegate to either campaign its not that high a bar compared to the disenfranchisement.

Here is a video of the 5.5 hours of hearings. And comments from a Connecticut advocate.

Editorial: We didn’t “Fix this” or was it Fixed? We all lose anyway.

After the long lines in some states in 2012, President Obama said “We Have To Fix That“. Four years and a Presidential Commission later, it seems, at least Arizona is going the wrong way.

The results, entirely predictable, were endless lines akin to those that await the release of new iPhones.

We say:

  • Any disenfranchisement, disenfranchises every voter in the United States.  Our vote and democracy is distorted by the disenfranchisement of others.  We could have a different President and different party in power next January based on a distorted result.
  • Even if there was no disenfranchisement, (unlikely from what we see at this point), our democracy suffers from the lack of credibility unless the issues are investigated and effectively fully resolved.

 

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