Thoughts on Potential Voting Fraud

I am writing today regarding an issue I have seen discussed with increasing frequency in recent years, and that issue is “voting fraud”.  It has been said that “It does not happen”, and that is stated based on the almost non-existent evidence of that voter fraud.  I accepted for many years that lack of evidence implied lack of fraud, but on closer examination, the paucity of evidence for fraudulent voting seems to be a feature of the system’s design rather than the prevalence or absence of voting integrity.  That would cast extreme doubt on the entire voting system, which would need to be improved.

I have seen the issue come up repeatedly about whether elections might be tampered with or how easily they might be compromised. It was when I stumbled across the work of Project Veritas that the issue seemed urgent rather than hypothetical.   I realize their group is an extremely conservative group, so it must be considered with a hefty helping of salt simply because it is so likely to be biased and have an agenda.  However, their group recorded conversations which implied that voter fraud was very possible, and might even be prevalent in less secure states (see video below).  Further, the video seems to suggest that some members of the Democratic party may have been sympathetic to unethical or illegal voting practices and takes credit for getting them fired.  I’m aware that edited video can be biased and omit important facts, but these videos speak for themselves on the ease of potential fraud.

What prompted me to write this article was the article I saw in “The Intercept” (link below) about the leader of Project Veritas being sued for damages relating to the videos he made.  The article says the information that was gathered for this particular video was allegedly gathered “illegally”, because persons were allegedly “recorded without their knowledge”.  The article even says (and I quote):

“Basically O’Keefe and Maass were modern-day Watergate burglars. They used fraud to get Maass a position as an intern at Democracy Partners so they could steal documents and secretly videotape conversations,” said Joe Sandler, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs. “There is no question that, in doing so, they violated federal and D.C. law and should be held liable for the damages suffered by our clients as a result.”
(See “James OKeefe Sued Sting” below)

I don’t know whether any crimes were committed because I don’t know those laws, so I can’t speak to that accusation.  What troubles me is the possibility that the act of collecting the information which could or would reveal voter fraud could itself  be an illegal act.  It troubles me deeply that they were compared to the Water-Gate burglars over these specific videos (if they had been accused of stealing political strategies, the analogy would make sense).  These particular videos look more like a kind of journalism, documenting vulnerability in the system and how it might be exploited.  I recall that, at my local election, use of cell phones and producing photographic evidence of any vote was illegal.  If it is illegal to produce evidence that would confirm or deny voting fraud, that would explain why there’s so “little evidence” of it, and even imply it could be widespread even without evidence.

When I ran several searches about the voting machines themselves, I was disappointed to learn that the voting process on those machines had limited integrity.  It seemed as if the voting totals from some of the machines used to vote were, in many cases, unverifiable and thus unreliable (based on articles I read following the Green recount request).  It also seemed that it would be relatively easy to modify voting results after the vote was complete, to say nothing of the possibility of tampering prior to an election.  I realize that there’s a certain amount of security in place to prevent tampering, but I have serious doubts that volunteers would be able to observe and prevent tampering with voting machines when that could be done as quickly and easily as demonstrated in the article from Cylance below.  This is only one specific case; there are many articles online about insecure voting machines and how they need to be updated with better models.

My big concern is that voting might not be as secure as it was presumed.  Reportedly, barely more than half the country is participating in elections (See CNN article).  But if voting is not properly secure, can easily be tampered with and then there is no verification for the vote that was cast, then how can we trust the vote itself?  When Jill Stein of the Green Party called for a recount to confirm voting integrity, she was accused of “contributing to a lack of confidence in the system”, but is that confidence well founded?

Voting is a cornerstone of our democratic process.  It cannot be allowed to be compromised, and needs to be protected in a verifiable way.  When and if that cannot be done, then we should not be “confident in the system”.  We need a system that we can be confident about, and recent events have called it into question for good reason.  I am less concerned about who specifically wins than I am that the process is followed correctly and the proper candidate receives the correct votes.

Having a better, more secure voting process should be a priority.  I’m generally opposed to voter ID laws on the basis that they are used primarily for disenfranchisement (yes, $5 is a lot of money when you are dirt poor – there must be no poll tax at all as a barrier to voting), but if a voter ID could be implemented that was not a major burden to participation while maintaining the integrity of the election, I could tolerate that.  That would probably require (among other things) that the ID cards be provided at no cost to the individual, but the cost of running the election is something government should be paying for anyway.  Having secure, verifiable results is important.  Yes, I want to maintain that everyone eligible can participate, but I also want to make sure that there’s nothing illegitimate taking place.

I do not want my confidence in the American electoral system to be blind faith.  It is important that the integrity of our elections be protected, and if we’re going to go to the trouble of showing up in person to vote, then we shouldn’t be worried about whether the machine recorded the votes correctly or whether they might have been tampered with or whether somebody might have picked up a ballot for the deceased.  I could tolerate low voter turnout if people are really not showing up, but if the system is so vulnerable to foul play then even low turnout must be questioned.  There is a quote about voting, widely attributed to Stalin, that seems particularly apt here:

“I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this — who will count the votes, and how.”

 

http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/28/politics/jill-stein-recount-2016-election/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/11/politics/popular-vote-turnout-2016/index.html

https://blog.cylance.com/cylance-discloses-voting-machine-vulnerability

https://www.thoughtco.com/stalin-it-isnt-the-people-who-vote-that-count-3299175

https://theintercept.com/2017/06/01/james-okeefe-sued-sting-democracy-partners-million-dollar-lawsuit/

 

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