Screw voter ID, Wisconsin needs to clean up its real voting-security problems | Wis.Community

Screw voter ID, Wisconsin needs to clean up its real voting-security problems

[img_assist|nid=51968|title=We are all GOP now|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=145|height=151]Bev Harris of the excellent not-for-profit group Black Box Voting has been doing some serious research nationwide over the past few months on widespread threats to election integrity in Wisconsin and other states. The results of her work will appear in a five-part weekly report to be released on http://www.blackboxvoting.org throughout the month of September. 

Wisconsin Republicans have "fixed" a virtually non-existent vote fraud problem by forcing upon state citizens an elaborate and complex voter ID requirement. Most experts say Wisconsin's recently enacted voter ID law will serve to make it harder for at-risk populations, students and Democratic-leaning voters in general to choose their elected officials.

As if that's not bad enough, we have the dangerous and goofball election practices of Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, a partisan Republican who on several occasions and so far twice this year has created controversy in her management of that county's election results. At the very minimum, her actions have made voters more cynical and skeptical about election integrity.

But the problems with the vote in Wisconsin go much farther than draconian voter ID laws or one incompetent, partisan county clerk. "Cleaning" the voter roles as per the insidous Help America Vote Act (really, it should have been called the Help America Vote Republican Act) is among the challenges in Wisconsin and elsewhere. On that and other election integrity issues, 

Harris gave readers a taste of what she's come up with, mentioning Wisconsin. Here's that summary:

In Wisconsin, citizens who checked their voter records found them to be inaccurate. The histories reported that they had not voted in elections when they had; that they had voted absentee when they had not. (But who cares?) Your voter history is used to determine whether to keep or purge you from the rolls. Your vote method history (absentee, early, at polls) needs to MATCH the election results record. In other words, the number of absentee votes must MATCH the number of people in the voter history who voted absentee. Inaccurate voter histories will produce wrongful purging. Participating voter lists that don't match [the] number of votes violate one of the most crucial safeguards against vote count tampering.

Voter lists have to be updated, with changed addresses and so forth; how do such actions put you at risk for wrongful purging? I have located specific areas where procedural protections need to be added in order to prevent voter updates from producing wrongful purges. And what about "rightful purging"? The Help America Vote Act required cleansing of voter lists, which became a controversial political talking point. I'll show you just how cluttered with duplicates the voter lists had become, and the immense job it was to clean them up.

Demographics are often cited to support or negate election results. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 contains provisions for tracking racial demographics in locations with a history of problems. These "Voting Rights" locations, by federal law, track the number of Black voters (and sometimes Hispanic, Asian or other minority groups). But are the reported demographics accurate? I found that these demographics are becoming increasingly inaccurate in at least one racially polarized county. Yet the demographics are frequently cited to tell the public the electronic count must be accurate because it "matches the demographics." (What does that statement mean if the demographics are inaccurate?)

When then-US Representative Cynthia McKinney (later 2008 Green Party candidate for president) requested to examine the list of who voted in her 2006 congressional election [in Georgia], she was never given a thing. They used electronic poll books and no one seemed to know exactly what the poll list would look like. I have obtained approximately one thousand electronic poll logs, along with their accompanying master files. I will show you exactly what they look like, what to ask for, how to examine them, what safeguards are crucial to reduce risk with electronic poll books, now widely used in the USA.

Are there any problems with the software design in the ES&S/Diebold ExpressPoll system? (You betcha.) As they say, humans err but a computer can REALLY mess things up.

How does the voter list interact with the vote counting process, and could it be used to tamper? It's not surprising that the voter list would supply a number of voters per precinct to be used with election results, to track turnout percentage. I WAS surprised, however, to see a more intimate relationship; one that could be used like a middleman, using the voter list software to actually tamper with the vote count itself.

In absentee voting locations -- and over 25 states now have no-fault absentee voting -- inaccurate "who voted" lists offer a direct connection to vote stuffing for insiders willing to exploit the lists.

I will also be posting some surveillance tapes from an election operation, with specific suggestions for procedural protections to preserve and protect surveillance tape data.

Harris says for citizen oversight of elections is more critical than ever. Her series, "WHO CAN VOTE / WHO DID VOTE," explains why. I recommend that concerned progressives read every word, and then form action teams.

Published

August 31, 2011 - 9:58am

Author

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