Black Box Voting chief: It ain't over, yet | WisCommunity

Black Box Voting chief: It ain't over, yet

[img_assist|nid=44007|title=Vote-o-matic|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=200|height=259]Bev Harris, who created the national group Black Box Voting to examine vote-counting irregularities -- particularly in the case of electronic vote gathering -- this morning sent out an excellent analysis of the current situation with respect to the Wisconsin Supreme Court race. 

The short summary: It ain't over, yet.

Read the following excerpt from her post. There's much more in the full post available at the Black Box web site -- the URL to the full article listed below. All bold-facing is mine:

Here's the next twist: The Journal-Sentinel reports in a story posted Sunday April 10 at 1:00 a.m., "Prosser ahead by 6,744 votes out of nearly 1.5 million cast." 

The newspaper is reporting roughly 400,000 more votes than the state has posted, and this is AFTER the Brookfield votes were posted. So what's missing on the state spreadsheet? By 4:14 p.m. Friday the state had not reported about 30 wards from the city of Madison, much of Fon du Lac, [sic] and several Oshkosh wards... . 


Several questions remain, but access to the original source documents will produce most of it. Wisconsin conceals the vote-counting and chain of custody from the public, using electronic machines with no way for the public to compare input to output. By the time any recount would be done, ballots have been moved out of public view, toasting the chain of custody. 

But Wisconsin does have many good procedures and good public records practices. In fact, Wisconsin had the first Freedom of Information law in America, passing it in 1848. (The first Freedom of Information laws in the world were passed in Sweden in 1766.) 

In my opinion, the Wisconsin Supreme Court race probably won't ultimately come down to something that happened in Brookfield, but it may very well still come to a recount. 


I'd be looking very carefully at the absentee votes, and at the poll worker reconciliation forms, and at the timing when each municipality and county first publicly committed to ward-level results. I'm interested -- at least in Brookfield -- in what caused an apparent last-minute surge in votes that looks impossible. I do have a theory on that which I'll keep off-grid for now. I expect that apparent anomaly to have a legitimate explanation, but I want to corroboration for my theory. 


I'd like to quote an excellent letter by election law scholar Paul Lehto, in regard to Nate Silver's editorial in the New York Times. Lehto nails it: 

"A major reason (besides being apologists) why people can "see nothing nefarious" in election results is that it is so difficult to see anything whatsoever... 

"Remember it is secret black box voting boxes we are talking about. Data is extremely hard to come up, except for the conclusory election results numbers that pop out of the black boxes ...he [Nate Silver] 'sees nothing nefarious' because he can see so very little (much like the rest of us) because of the very nature of the voting system. 

"What is decisive in terms of where people come down on this issue is their underlying attitude toward things they can't see or investigate. 

"If it is one of trust, they will find some small ledge of data to support the entire election because it is really trust they operate on. If it, instead, is an underlying attitude of accountability, then circumstances like Waukesha are concerning at least ... who can rationally be in favor of unaccountable government or unaccountable elections? 

"...those who implicitly advocate "trust and confidence" in elections have put the cart before the horse: trust and confidence is a state of mind that should only be earned and must be re-earned with each election, and only after investigation reveals that all necessary checks and balances were in place in a properly designed voting system and that the checks and balances, including transparent observability and others, worked as they were intended to work. 

"..But we can't have confidence right now just a few days after an election when we are missing so much information from Wisconsin, and much of what we do know stinks or is suggestive of mistakes and fraud. But Nate Silver simply, and erroneously, takes an entirely different approach that ignores accountability and instead looks for a silver lining of the "numbers jibing" and the like upon which to attach his presumed and pre-existing trust and confidence." 

Good stuff, Paul Lehto. In other words, we should not be urging the public to trust what the public cannot see and authenticate. We have a structural problem with US election procedures, and instead of focusing on politics, we should be working together to restore the public ability to see what's going on.


April 11, 2011 - 9:45am