Election "Rigging" Tensions Rise With Questions On Reliability Of Paperless Voting Machines

A close election this November could result in a real "constitutional crisis" with both presidential candidates accusing the other of efforts to "rig" the election.

Just yesterday we wrote about how Hillary stoked fears that Russia may seek to tamper with U.S. elections to help Trump even though U.S. intelligence officials admit they have no "definitive proof" of such efforts (see "Hillary Joins In Russian Election-Tampering Fear-Mongering, Despite No "Definitive Proof"").  The Department of Homeland Security also hinted at a potential need to seize control of state election infrastructure after reports surfaced that Russian hackers had managed to breach state election databases in Arizona and Illinois (see "Why Is The DHS Preparing To Take Control Of The US Election?").  Never wanting to be left out, Harry Reid also chimed in saying "I have recently become concerned that the threat of the Russian government tampering in our presidential election is more extensive than widely known and may include the intent to falsify official election results."

Meanwhile, Trump, rarely one to mince words, has already told Pennsylvania supporters that "the only way they can beat [me] in my opinion, and I mean this 100 percent, if in certain sections of the state they cheat."  He also launched a page on his official website calling for supporters to "help me stop Crooked Hillary from rigging this election" by signing up to be a volunteer "Trump Election Observer."  The volunteer form can be viewed here.

Help Me Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election!

 

Please fill out this form to receive more information about becoming a volunteer Trump Election Observer.

 

Please ensure that the information you provide in this form matches your voter registration information.

We're not sure how well "Trump Election Observers" would go over in certain districts around Pennsylvania, particularly in Philadelphia where the "New Black Panther Party" already declared themselves the official election observers starting back in 2008...

Black Panther Election Observer

 

With all the election tampering paranoia being propagated, there is sure to be an extra dose of scrutiny on electronic voting machines employed in several swing states across the country.  The problem is primarily with the so-called "paperless voting machines" which provide absolutely no paper trail of votes cast.  Unfortunately, these paperless machines are used heavily in districts of several swing states including Georgia (not typically a swing state but certainly much closer this election season than normal), Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia.

As Politico points out, several states have already encountered problems with paperless voting machines.  In fact, Florida has all but abandoned paperless machines after several elections were questioned after the machines recorded numerous blank ballots.

President George W. Bush’s narrow reelection victory in 2004 prompted liberal conspiracy theories about swing states like Ohio, where the official results contradicted exit polls indicating that Democratic challenger John Kerry was leading. (The pollsters later acknowledged that their surveys had been flawed.) Without a paper backup, election officials had no hard copy they could check to verify that the results matched the ballots voters had cast.

 

Similar questions arose in Florida, in elections large and small. In one village election in Palm Beach County, a council candidate lost by four votes after the machines mysteriously recorded 78 blank ballots. In 2006, Democrats unsuccessfully sued over a House race in which more than 16,000 voters recorded no vote for either Republican winner Vern Buchanan or Democratic rival Christine Jennings. A judge blocked Jennings’ demand to view the machines’ source code, dismissing her arguments as "conjecture.”

Florida just can't seem to win with paper or paperless ballots...

Hanging Chad

 

Though some people have defended the paperless machines (including the manufacturers...shocking!) saying that tampering with election results would require physical access to the voting stations.

Defenders of the electronic machines — including their manufacturers and some state election officials — insist that they use security checks and other safeguards, including post-election digital audits, to ensure the integrity of the results. And hacking the machines would be much harder in practice than many security researchers’ studies assume, Virginia Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortes said in an interview.

 

“You’d need physical access to equipment to be able to do anything to it,” said Cortes, who estimates that voting machines that lack paper records are still in use in about a third of his state’s localities. “It would be a substantial undertaking to try to do something like that.”

 

Paper records aren’t the only way to verify a vote total, said Merle King, a professor of information systems at Kennesaw State University who runs the school’s election center, which handles the logistics and auditing of Georgia’s elections.

 

“There is this notion that without paper there can be no meaningful audit. That’s an interesting assertion, but I believe it’s inherently incorrect,” King said, insisting that the state’s electronic tallies are reliable.

 

But outside security experts said those safeguards are inadequate to ensure public confidence in election results.

Meanwhile, the loss of confidence in our election process could have dire consequences as Trump political consultant Roger Stone recently said it would result in a "constitutional crisis."

"If you can’t have an honest election, nothing else counts.  I think he’s gotta put them on notice that their inauguration will be rhetorical, and when I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath. The government will be shut down if they attempt to steal this and swear Hillary in. No, we will not stand for it. We will not stand for it."

But don't worry, James Carville, appearing on MSNBC, assured voters that "by and large American elections are pretty much on the up and up" even though he admitted it was possible to "rig a voting machine to get a 100 votes here or a 100 votes there, that is possible."  Oddly, this admission came just moments after Carville attacked Trump and his supporters for suggesting the presidential election might be rigged, calling such claims "a fundamental attack on the country itself."

So, if we understand correctly, Carville's point is that elections can only be rigged a little...is this like being "a little pregnant?"  We're sure this provides great comfort to the Romney camp that lost several states by only a few thousand votes.