Reminder: Voting Machines Can Still Be Hacked

Will the machine record the way you vote correctly?

Will the machine record the way you vote correctly?

While media focuses on the horse race aspects of the next presidential race and adherents of one candidate or another argue into the night of nuanced aspects of policy, most have forgotten one aspect of elections that could have a major impact on the 2016 election – Americans still vote on machines that can be easily hacked.

Once again we had some surprising results in an election in 2014. Once again electronic voting machines are in the middle of the controversy. Once again, rather than those in power being open and honest about the process, cover ups ensue.

While Republicans have shifted the debate about election fraud to blaming folks who ineligible to vote and have focused on making it harder to vote for millions of citizens, once again the easiest path to election fraud lies in the software of electronic voting machines.

Prof. Beth Clarkson of Wichita State University, head of the school’s National Institute of Aviation Statistics, saw some disturbing trends in the 2014 election in Kansas. This election was expected to see Republicans Gov. Sam Brownback, Sen. Pat Roberts and Secretary of State Kris Kobach to be handily defeated. Instead all won handily. Clarkson could not help but be suspicious.

From a story and interview on this week Brad Friedman (long time critic of electronic voting machines) explores what happened in Kansas with Clarkson. Here is a short excerpt from the story:

Confirming a theory initially reported by two other statisticians in 2012 [PDF], Clarkson has found that computer-reported results from larger precincts in the state, with more than 500 voters, show a “consistent” statistical increase in votes for the Republican candidates in general elections (and even a similar increase for establishment GOP candidates versus ‘Tea Party’ challengers during Republican primaries). Those results run counter to conventional political wisdom that Democrats perform better in larger, more urban precincts.

The larger the precinct size, she explains on today’s program, the higher the percentage of the vote for the GOP candidate. Clarkson finds “that is the case, and that is a relationship that is unexplained and very troubling.” Previously, statisticians Francois Choquette and James Johnson found a similarly unexplained relationship while examining reported vote totals in Iowa, New Hampshire, Arizona, Ohio, Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Kentucky.

Even more disturbing, in hopes of further testing her theory, Clarkson has filed a lawsuit under the state’s public records act in hopes of auditing some of the so-called “paper trails” from the state’s unverifiable touch-screen voting systems, but Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach (a long-time GOP vote suppression champion) is fighting her access to those records in court. Kobach’s full response is here [PDF]. The response from the Sedgewick County Election Commissioner Tabatha Lehman is here.

“There have been a few theories advanced,” to explain the statistical pattern. “The one I find most probable is that the voting machines are being manipulated. Their vulnerability seems to me a fairly high-probability explanation for this particular pattern. It fits exactly what you’d expect to see if people are flipping the votes within voting machines.”

The interview is at the bottom of that same article here. It is sixty minutes in length. The interview with Clarkson actually begins about 20 minutes in. For the first twenty minutes, Friedman sets up the whole electronic voting hacking story.

Remember that policies from universal health care to climate change response to protections for labor and the ability to organize to such basic questions as fair taxation are decided by these elected officials. Americans are not free if they do not have verifiable elections. Without that our democracy is a sham. Next year’s election will be crucial to returning our country to a balanced society. Allowing election theft to happen at all is one of the great crimes in America.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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