This site has a lengthy news article on the possibility that the last U.S. election was hacked to favor a Bush result. The article claims that while some people were worried about the touchscreen voting, they should have been looking at the scanners that convert the paper ballots into digital numbers.
They claim that the data in the Windows PC is easily modified either by a knowledgable operator or perhaps a program, and the mods are nearly untraceable.
It makes for an interesting read. I sure would like to run a test of 100 paper ballots and see if the digital results match the paper. Of course, that wouldn’t rule out human interaction on election night.
From what I understand, one of the cornerstones of the “this election was decided by Diebold makers” was those exit polling numbers–that showed Kerry with a 20% lead in PA and other equally ridiculous numbers.
On Election Day, there was a lot of disinformation floating around and leaked to Drudge (gee, Drudge is unreliable–who would’ve thought it…) … the exit poll numbers that got the Kerry supporters all happy were completely B-O-G-U-S. The blog that leaked them even listed Michigan twice with different numbers for both.
In reality, exit polls favored Kerry by only about 1-2 points and pretty much called most all of the states. Bush won OH, FL, etc.
Don’t believe me? Browse this website for yourself.
Oh, sure. I mean, you can get 1/4 out of 16/64 by cancelling out the sixes. Ad logicam and all that. All I’m saying is that I don’t trust Hartman or Coulter. Looking at his sources, and following links from there, it doesn’t seem to me that this is any massive organized ballot fraud, but rather the sort of glitches I’ve heard about after every election I can remember. Even one of his own sources who compiled some of the stats he used, says: “However, no conclusions can yet be drawn from this data and analyses.”
His headline is sensational, stating in declarative mode that “Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked”. (Note the “mounts” and the “may have been”.) Later, in the story, the charge is considerably softened: “And some believe evidence is accumulating that the national effort happened on November 2, 2004.” Some? Is that he and his assistant? […shrug…] It smacks of the stories about Hillary’s complicity in murder conspiracies. Lots of hype. No compelling evidence.
Whatever the merits (or lack thereof) of this claim, the bottom line is that it’s long past time that all elections were conducted with a proper system (i.e. with a paper trail that can be verified by the voter on site, and which trumps the electronic tally if the two disagree).
Of the two systems mentioned here, touch-screen and optical scan, only the optical scan fulfills the paper trail requirement (although I never saw a system that read the ballot and displayed the results for the voter to check immediately; that would be a great idea). But the optical scan counties are the ones that appear to be in dispute, not the uncheckable touch-screen ones. I guess these ballots could be hand-counted if properly challenged. I wish at least one randomly-chosen county in Florida would do this as a test.
I’m a Southern Democrat, and I can tell you that they’re misinterpreting the numbers.
The last vestige of the Democratic Party in the rural South is local offices. The South has turned Republican by degrees, in top-down fashion. First, the South began voting Republican in Presidential elections, while the congressmen and governors of southern states remained solidly Democratic. Then the South began electing Republican Senators and Representatives, while statehouses remained in Democratic hands. And then the South began electing Republican governors. Most recently, state legislatures in the South began to go Republican (it was only in this past election that Republicans at last gained the majority in Georgia’s House of Representatives).
In many rural counties in Georgia and north Florida, local offices (sheriff, mayor, commissioner, etc.) are still held by (nominal) Democrats. People in rural counties vote for these local Democratic officeholders, even while voting Republican at every other level.
Which explains why there is such a high percentage of registered Democrats in these rural counties in Florida. Local elections still get decided in the Democratic Primaries. (Republicans seldom field effective candidates at the local level- though I expect this will be the next step in the conquest of the South.) People want to be able to vote in the Democratic primaries, so they register as Democrats in order to have a say in who is governing them at the local level.
In view of those circumstances, it really shouldn’t be surprising that a given rural county has a high percentage of registered Democrats but votes overwhelmingly for Bush in the presidential election.
The Diebold Accu-vote (not the touch screens, but the optical scan) have a simple accounting tape right in them. You can print totals at the end of the day, just for that precinct. That would provide a pretty simple way to double-check against this supposed after-the-fact tampering with totals. Add up all the tapes, compare it to what the central computer is saying. All optical scan machines should have this feature, if they don’t.
Only a hand count is going to get at the other allegation, which is that every machine is rigged to redistribute votes. You run through a set of ballots and then count them by hand, and see if they tally the same. I assume testing takes place before every single election. The way around this would be to set the machine to “skim” only after a certain number of ballots are cast. That is, if you suspect the machine is only going to be tested with 100 or so ballots, you start the hijinks to start after 200 votes.
I’m still really dubious about this “rigging” however.
Does anybody work with this software? Is this a sample of the output? I am linking to this particular election results page since I personally know the county clerk that creates this and I plan to speak to her tomorrow and ask what opsys & software she uses. I’m pretty sure it is just another Windoze computer at the courthouse and it gets data thru a modem from the optical readers at the scattered precincts.
CrankyAsAnOldMan, I’m somewhat dubious about rigging, too, but it sure would be nice if some (all?) of those paper tape totals were reconciled, under the watchful eyes of bi-partisan observers, to the numbers in the tabulator software. In fact, I would think it would be mandatory for all elections, all precincts, all the time, just to avoid accusations of fraud.
Well, for some races I know there was that sort of reconciling opportunity, albeit not official or bipartisan. I was the last precinct to drag our sorry butts in to the clerk, and there at the ungodly hour of 4 am were some campaign workers (for a state house election) doing a hand tabulation from all the precinct tapes, calling into their campaign headquarters with the numbers. This campaign had someone at every clerk’s office, I gathered, or a few people were driving around to get them all. Similarly we had candidates and challengers jotting down numbers at the polling place, too, phoning them in to other people.
In the first sentence of your OP, you falsely claimed “according to a news article”, when it was nothing of the sort. It was an opinion piece, by a radio talk show host. Not news. And now you’re repeating the error.