What's the problem with computers in elections? They prevent observation. Voters cannot observe their own votes inside an electronic voting machine (the touchscreen display and the paper trail cannot guarantee that the votes inside the electronic memory are correct). No observers can witness how the votes are handled, counted, or tabulated.
Primary election rigging in the coming weeks and months is all but assured if American voters and candidates don't take steps to prevent it now. Evidence that US voting systems are wide open to fraud and manipulation should be taken seriously in light of the unprecedented high-stakes elections we're facing.
When Clarkson initially filed her lawsuit requesting the paper records from the voting machines, her suit was denied because a judge ruled that the paper records constituted ballots, shielding them from the state’s open records law. This ruling is suspect at best, given that the paper records do not have voters’ names assigned to them; they only record when and how a ballot was cast for recount purposes.
She then sought a court order giving her access to a sample of voting records in order to check voting machines’ error rates. This order was ignored by the Secretary of State’s office, despite their being legally required to respond to her within 30 days. The office later said that they didn’t realize they had received her request.
“No one expects a laptop to last for 10 years. How can we expect these machines, many of which were designed and engineered in the 1990s, to keep running without increased failures?” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Center’s Democracy Program, and co-author of the study, in a statement. “Old equipment can have serious security flaws, and the longer we delay purchasing new machines, the higher the risk. To avoid a new technology crisis every decade, we must plan for and invest in voting technology for the 21st century.”
The biggest risk in waiting, the study found, is that machines will continue to fail and malfunction, increasing lines at the voting booth and causing a crisis in confidence in the voting system.
In 14 states, the machines in use next year will be at least 15 years old, far past the point of technological obsolescence. The study found that nearly every state is using some machines that are no longer manufactured, with parts that are growing increasingly difficult or impossible for election officials to acquire.
Voting equipment became big news in the 2000 presidential election when Florida's punch-card ballots weren't punched right. Within weeks, "experts" declared that America might need to spend $3.5 billion to $9.5 billion to replace older voting technologies with new computerized voting equipment. Even when defective, however, punch-card ballots could still be read and the votes counted without difficulty. Dan Rather produced evidence in 2007 that Sequoia, the company that made the defective punch-card ballots, had intentionally used defective paper and printing methods--but no governmental body has taken follow-up action.
Since 2000 America has seen many "crises" that resulted in hasty, ill-advised and expensive action by Congress. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) is one example. HAVA authorized expenditures of $3.86 billion so states could buy new computerized voting equipment and also replace paper-based, local voter registration systems with new computerized voter registration systems that are centralized at the state level. The changes HAVA encouraged and required have caused chaos in American elections, including obviously-wrong election results and easily-accomplished illegal "purges" of valid voter registrations .
Computerized voting and vote-counting undermine democracy -- citizen oversight of elections requires ordinary, non-technical citizens to be able to observe, understand, and attest that voting and vote-counting are proper and honest.
If HAVA had banned election observers, people would have objected. But HAVA merely offered $3 billion to replace older, observable systems with "modern" computerized systems that prevent all meaningful observation, and got away with it.
Indeed, they could.
But to be fair, so could a lot of other people. Local fixers, insider operatives, rogue hackers and even foreign countries could all rig US elections - in whole or part, in 50 states and most of the United States' 3,143 counties - electronically, and without detection.
The potential for this vote-rigging cyberwar is the result of an ongoing crisis in US democracy - a silent coup of sorts. Over many decades, US elections have been quietly outsourced to a small group of private voting machine companies, some with extreme partisan ties and criminal records. They have now almost entirely replaced our publicly counted paper ballots with their secretly programmed, easily hacked electronic voting technology.
If you haven't heard about it until now, thank the press. A longstanding mainstream media blackout on this issue has prevented the evidence from reaching the public.
Visit the National Election Defense Coalition's website to learn more about how to reform our elections process.