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: (And we and others have said again, again, and again more this year,)

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. A report from the Institute for Critical Infrastructure technology says it all: “Hacking Elections is Easy!” The report discusses how our election infrastructure, from voting machines to registration and reporting systems, are all at risk.

In Connecticut, like most states, a disruption in our centralized voter registration system on Election Day or its compromise before voter lists are printed, would disrupt an election. In many municipalities, voted ballots are easily accessible to multiple single individuals, “protected” only by all but useless tamper-evident seals. Partisans run our elections from top to bottom. Most are of high integrity, yet there is high motivation for manipulation.

We can do much better in the long run, if the actual risks are not forgotten after November.

So, lets annotate a recent Op-Ed in the Hartford Courant

Nothing Rigged About American Elections
Amid the rubble of war, a woman stood against a cold and bitter wind. I asked her why she stood patiently waiting in a line with hundreds of her neighbors. “I have waited 90 years to cast my vote,” she said with a smile. “I can wait just a little longer.”
In the autumn of 2001, I had the privilege to be with this woman and thousands of others for the first parliamentary elections in war torn Kosovo. For decades, the people of this east European land were ruled by kings and dictators, and occupied by Nazis and Communists. But at the dawn of a new century, with American help, they emerged from the shadow of genocidal war and put their faith in a future decided by free and fair elections.
In the past quarter century, I have worked alongside people in more than a dozen countries on four continents to help advance the democratic process by holding free and fair elections. Here at home, I
worked on a team that called on the U.S. Justice Department to push back against voter intimidation against African-Americans in east Texas. As a member of the National Association of Secretaries of State,
I stood with Republican and Democratic election officials to ensure that the integrity of our electoral system is respected and protected.
[There are, of course, deserved respect and blind faith. One can work for either or both.]
That’s why I’ve taken claims that our election system is “rigged” very seriously. Once faith in the integrity of the electoral system is undermined, the legitimacy of government is called into question. Democracy itself cannot long endure in such an environment.
[If faith in the integrity of the electoral system is undermined, then we should use facts and reason to determine if faith is justified, or if the system needs attention.]
Fortunately, there are some internationally accepted guidelines that help us determine if an electoral system is rigged.
First, there needs to be a legal framework that specifies the time, place and manner of holding elections. We’ve got that—it’s in the Constitution along with 50 state constitutions and related local regulations.
Second, there should be universal and equal suffrage and nondiscrimination when it comes to who canvote. This has not always been the case in the United States. It could be said that elections in which African-Americans and women were denied the vote in the past were rigged, but fortunately that is no longer the case.
[Unfortunately, our 50-state system is not uniform and in many states barriers are in-place to make it easier or more difficult for particular classes of citizens to vote.]
Third, electoral management bodies should be formed that can hold and monitor the conduct of elections. In the United States, each of the 50 states separately controls conduct of the electoral processthrough their respective offices of the secretary of state. Today, the majority of these officers are, infact, Republicans. All of these offices are staffed with career professionals. At the local level, tens of thousands of municipalities across the United States have town or city clerks or registrars of voters who administer elections and count ballots.
[This are not necessarily an exhaustive list of requirements. Also often the devil is in the details.  There is no guarantee that each one of these individuals is honest and unbiased.  We all remember Ken Blackwell and Katherine Harris.  We note that Government finances are under the control of individuals in every state, county and town, yet that does not guarantee the money is all accounted for.] [PS:  Those officials do not, in general, count the ballots.  It is left to pollworkers and the vast majority of ballots are not counted by people but by machines that those people do not fully understand or control.]
Fourth, provision should be made for election observers to be present during the casting of ballots, as well as being present during tabulation of the ballots. These duties are carried out by hundreds of
thousands of our fellow Americans at polling sites across the country. Thank them when you see them this Nov. 8.
[I am one of them and appreciate thanks.  Here in Connecticut no observers are allowed – yet with machine counting there is not much to observers and when votes are counted by hand, observers are allowed to watch from quite a distance.]
Working in places like Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, I have seen men and women put their lives on the line to organize and participate in elections. They did it because they believed democracy offered them a way forward. They saw it as a flawed system, but one with more hope than the one from which they emerged.
[Many of them would be happy to be here.  But the question is, do we have a flawed system and hope for improvement or unjustified blind faith?]
Those who denigrate our democracy with groundless claims not
only insult the thousands of officials and hundreds of thousands of poll workers who make the system work, they risk undermining the faith that millions across the globe have placed in democracy as the best system to advance equality of opportunity and protect the rights of the individual and the dignity of all.
[When one disagrees with our foreign policy, one is accused of insulting the troops and veterans. Here questioning our election system is diffused as insulting pollworkers.  If one is to have faith in Democracy, it must be fully realized and open to improvement and questioning.]
By any measure, America’s electoral system is a wonder to behold, for on this Election Day, one of the most diverse populations on the planet will show the world—once again—that free people can govern themselves.
[Apparently not as Obama said four years ago “We can fix this.”]
Scott Bates of Stonington is an adjunct senior fellow at the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I., the former Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia and has worked on U.S.-funded democracy assistance missions in over a dozen countries.
[Yes Virginia, which until recently used widely viewed as the most notorious voting system system in use, the WinVote. <read>.  The WinVote probably did happen after Bate’s service as Secretary of State in the mid 90’s <bio>]

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