New op-ed on Voter Fraud Claims

Brad Smith and I have a new op-ed up at National Review Online:

We have seen this before. In the 2004 elections, Democrats screamed that electronic voting machines in Ohio had been used to steal the election from Kerry. This weekend Nancy Pelosi claimed that Democrats will take control of the House as long as there is "an honest [vote] count."

Never mind that Democrats were almost uniformly in favor of forcing state and federal governments to spend billions of dollars replacing punch-card machines with touch-screen electronic voting machines after the 2000 election. Never mind that claims of a stolen election in 2004 were based on exit polls that even the presiding pollsters acknowledged were fatally flawed. Pelosi has now warned that if Democrats lose this vote, it will be because electronic voting machines were used to steal the election.

Election fraud is an important issue. But instead of improving the election process, Democrats’ regular claims of fraud may actually poison the political debate for years to come. A recent AP poll found that only 30 percent of blacks and 45 percent of Democrats claim that they are confident that their votes will be counted. For all voters, the number is only 60 percent. . . . .


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Credentials: Republican; 43 years of employment where I regularly used computers, including serving as a UNIX Sysadmim.

Just because the Democrats and liberals are screaming for a print-out, doesn’t mean we should not have it. I suggest a print-out which we drop into a separate box where it can be used for recounts.

I, personally, do not believe the machines have been used for wide-spread fraud YET, but I’m betting there are a number of people who could commit fraud if they were so inclined.

If we don’t address this issue we are sitting on a time bomb.

11/07/2006 2:29 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Anonymous:

Thanks for the note. I appreciate your credentials, but I would also appreciate a specific set of reasons that deal with what we wrote. If it makes people happy, fine, but the point is there is already multiple records and paper records take much, much more time to go through. The reasons for having them are based on irrational fear, and I guess that I would find it easier to deal with the claims if there were solid arguments put forward.

11/07/2006 2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When computer scientists warn of possible tampering with voting machines, they are not talking about hacking but about someone physically breaking open the lock on each individual machine and reprogramming it."

Are you unfamiliar with the warnings given by the Secretary of State of California, regarding voting machines in 21 of its 52 counties, about the unsecured re-vote button on the machines that allows voters to cast multiple ballots? Here is a link for your reference.


11/07/2006 3:46 PM  
Anonymous David Kuhl said...


Your arguments that all concerns of voting fraud are based on hysteria by people who do not understand the systems in place are just bizarre. It leads me to wonder if you have even a basic understanding of the machines involved.

Computer scientists who warn of hacking are not referring to an attempt to influence machines one by one. They are referring to an individual inserting a virus into a single machine. The virus will then replicate itself to the central tabulation machine when the local tabulator uploads its votes. All subsequent local machines that upload their votes will be likewise infected by the central tabulator. That is the nature of computer viruses, they are designed to spread. An internet connection is not necessary.

The scenario of the manufacturer tampering with the vote is similarly based. In this case the manufacturer has access to the central tabulation machine. There would be no evidence to contradict the central tabulation machine because the local machines would have their data synchronized when they upload their votes. The communication goes both ways.

I urge you to listen to or read the testimony of Clinton Curtis, given (under oath) before the U.S. House of Representatives in December of 2004. I have provided links at the end of this comment.

There would be no evidence of either of these forms of manipulation. The manufacturers have chosen to use the only database that I know of (I'm a database administrator) that has no transaction log. MS Access has no log of changes made to the data. MS SQL Server does, as does every other database software I can think of.

You also mention that precinct workers can check the accuracy of the voting machines. All the workers can check is the information provided to them by the software. No member of the United States government has the right to look under the hood and analyze the database or the code that tells us the vote count. The database and the software that runs the device are the property of privately owned corporations. Essentially, with electronic voting, four companies will tell us who wins the election and we have no other choice but to accept what they tell us. There is no physical record. There is no electronic record that cannot be easily tampered with, both on the local and central levels.

This is not a partisan issue. This is a simple matter of allowing governance to pass from the hands of the citizens of the United States to the hands of corporate entities. I believe this issue transcends the partisan divide.

One of those entities (Sequoia) has recently become a Venezuelan entity. It was purchased by Smartmatic, the firm that was involved in allegations of voter fraud that put Hugo Chavez in power. In Cook County, Illinois the support workers for the voting machines are partly comprised of Venezuelan nationalists. Not Americans of Venezuelan descent, Venezuelan nationalists.

The concerns over electronic voting are very real.

Clinton Curtis Testimony
AlterNet Video
LOU DOBBS on Avalanche of E-Voting Problems
YouTube Video

11/07/2006 5:25 PM  

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