Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Election integrity Proposal

Pennsylvania has been identified as one of the states most subject to the manipulation of voting results. (See http://truevote.us/nucleus/index.php?itemid=164 ) The following is an excerpt from a letter from an elections expert with recommendations on how to safeguards the results.

--- Our top priority must be prevention, not cure. Therefore pre-election activities are more important than post-election activities.

--- In paperless precincts, there is very little voters or even poll watchers can do to prevent fraud. But local election officials CAN do a lot, even at this late date -- IF THEY HAVE THE POLITICAL WILL.
Therefore the most important people we must reach, educate and persuade right now are the election officials -- not the general public.

These officials may not listen to election integrity activists. But those who are Democrats might listen to high level party leaders. Major funders should use their clout with the party and/or Obama campaign to get them to take this threat seriously, and give them specific suggestions to pass on to key state and local election officials. Such as:

-- All key states should print tons of emergency paper ballots, and local officials should be quick to use them, either to alleviate long lines and/or replace suspicious machines. That will take a lot of urging, because emergency paper ballots mean more work for election officials. Also more ballots must be printed up NOW everywhere we can.

-- Paperless swing states need teams of independent computer security experts to help officials do software verification and inspect machines in advance. Suspicious machines must be mothballed rather than asking crooked vendors to "fix" them. Election officials should not go to the vendors for help,. but decline their services and never leave vendors alone with the machines.

Of course this is an even harder sell - mothballed machines mean longer lines and how can you convince officials not to use "services" which have been paid for? Only a strong leadership can do this, and only if they are willing to admit (privately, to the officials) that they are worried about possible vendor fraud.

(Are independent computer security experts even allowed to touch the machines? Perhaps not, but they can stand next to the election officials and coach them on what to do to check them out. Probably this could be done in advance when the vendors are not even present.)

-- The vote tally in each precinct should be recorded in writing and a record kept at the local level, before and after the numbers are transmitted to a central tabulator. We should demand audits at both levels.

Obviously the kind of outreach I am thinking of can only be done very selectively. I think it would be best to target swing states with mixed systems - part paper and part DRE. If some of the voting is done on paper, including emergency paper ballots, it is much harder for the bad guys to know much much they need to cheat in order to win. States which fit this profile include Virginia, Pennsylvania*, Colorado, and Indiana - which in fact are the states that Warren Stewart is most concerned about.

You also need a very skilled communicator who can convince officials without being heavy handed and creating a backlash.

* Emphasis added