Election 2016 Round Table Discussion: With indiscretions concerning voter fraud and intimidation during past elections, and with electronic voting machines, computers and hackers ready, willing and able to rig elections, what if anything can and be done to stop voter fraud that will likely occur during the 2016 election cycle? US Seeks to Protect Voting System Against Cyberattacks yet we can’t stop voter fraud at polling stations in America? What’s wrong with this picture?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-I question the validity of the assumption this question makes that voter fraud “likely will” occur.  Despite the Trump campaign’s fearmongering and spreading of doubt, actual evidence of voter fraud in the U.S. is harder to find than a vegan at a barbecue cookoff.  Most of the battleground states have Republican governors, and the entire process will be scrutinized at a level never before seen.

What does worry me is the idea of Russian hackers trying to help Trump’s claim by creating as much havoc as possible with the system.  If Vladimir Putin is smart (Hint: He is), he’ll put his best brains to work trying to destroy faith in the U.S. electoral system and throw us into chaos.  A lot of the far right ultra-Trump groups are about a half-step from picking up pitchforks and torches already, and this would be all the excuse they’d need.  I think the only thing that can be done to totally secure us is to pull all the voting offline and go back to paper ballots counted by hand.

 

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-The challenge of providing secure voting for all Americans and ensuring their votes will be properly counted is daunting because there are thousands of voting jurisdictions, most of which have their own voting procedures and security measures in place. This may be a good thing in that hackers won’t be able to hijack the entire nation’s ballots with one single hacking program.

The downside of so many distinct voting jurisdictions is that there are probably hundreds if not thousands that have little or no security in place to prevent hacking. A concerted effort by a rogue nation, or even a superpower such as China or Russia, could conceivably enlist an army of hackers to paralyze key voting jurisdictions in battleground states. This disruption or tampering of vote totals may affect enough votes to either guarantee the presidential election to one party or change the outcome entirely and give the victory to the underdog. The scariest part is that such an event might happen without any election officials detecting the hacks or the fraud.

One solution may be to revamp Election Day and make it Election Week, or even Election Month. Spreading out the voting might prevent hackers from “stealing” a significant number of votes on any given day, and would also provide time for officials to monitor their respective vote-counting systems over that period and give them more opportunities to detect fraud and deal with it. The downside of this solution would be added costs for each voting jurisdiction in manpower and computer power to monitor the situation.

The radically low-tech solution might simply be a return to paper ballots and hand counting. Slow, for sure, but totally hack proof.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-Voter fraud can be stopped and alleviated through a number of actions that include the exclusive use of paper ballots for all voters as opposed to the use of electronic voting machines connected to the internet, which lead to possible hacking and other improprieties.  The precise handling of any type of  paper ballots, including those of the military and other overseas related ballots, should be a top priority at all polling stations.  No tampering, storing of additional ballots (for any length of time) or opening of ballots should occur until the day of an election.

Actual paper ballots need to be encrypted to the point that once candidates are selected and marks, touch screen presses or punches are made, the final processing and tabulation  of the votes will pass through a scanner that records the votes and identifies and certifies a one-time vote attached to a specific individual.

Another strategy involves the issuance of a ballot at the polling station where a voter marks their choices. The ballot has a serial number on it that is assigned to the specific precinct. The voter is also issued a receipt once he or she has voted that contains a unique identifier that can be traced back to the precinct.  This process would eliminate anyone attempting to vote more than once either in the same precinct or another one.

Other approaches to hinder voter fraud are more concrete in nature, where an actual vote is pinpointed and directly attributed to the voter, which helps to eliminate repetitive voting and non-registered voting. The Iraqi’s in their 2005 elections utilized the purple inked finger identification for one-time voting and it worked. The same type of indelible evidence for voting could be used at polling stations to prevent voters from traveling to another polling place and voting again, under an assumed name or other identification.

Strict voter identification is another tool to control voter fraud.  No one should be able to identify and present themselves as someone else (whether living or otherwise) to vote more than once or to cross county or state lines and vote in other jurisdictions, and  no non-citizen should be able to vote in any election. Picture identification (ID) should be part of normal procedure for any election as well as signature, fingerprint, and other means of identification.

Other means include direct reporting of issues with voting machines to each and every county that utilizes them in any election. Any machines with irregularities should be immediately removed from the polling premises and not utilized in any way, whether software issues or other glitches exist.  The elimination of voting machines altogether would be one very good way to thwart voter fraud as well as eliminate tampering with the software that guides the machines and the votes recorded.  Any machines of foreign origin or under the auspices of foreign directed vote counting should be eliminated as well. Machine brands with questionable connections to fraud or tampering in past elections should also be removed.

An example of voting machine irregularities was found in Chambers County, Texas where early voters there reported voting a straight Republican ticket and their presidential choice defaulted to Hillary Clinton. All electronic voting was stopped and the country clerk informed officials that software updates would be conducted to solve the problem. There was an apparent omission of one particular race (this one being the presidential race) that occurs when a straight ticket option is selected with either Democrat or Republican Party candidates.

A Texas-based organization, True the Vote, has trained its members, volunteers and poll watchers to report any election improprieties and illegalities that may occur during election processes and has recently released a smartphone application that allows phone users to report voter fraud and any suspicious activity or irregularities to election officials.  This organization and its recent application  should become the model for capturing any violations or infractions that actual voters experience and witness.

Pollsters have also contributed to possible vote swinging through their oversampling and skewing of Democrats as opposed to Republicans and Independent contributors. This kind of polling should be prohibited when it involves oversampling of one party or one group of individuals, such as women. This kind of strategy can influence voters to no longer invest in their candidate of choice and give up voting altogether when they see a poll that has advanced the opposing party with higher numbers through polling.

The referenced New York Times article appears to report the Department of Homeland Security’s protection for Democrat concerns and the Democratic National Committee, and places blame for recent hacks of the Committee on the Russian government. As far as what’s wrong with this picture, are voters to trust Homeland Security with voting machines when in fact DHS’s whole mission is anything but real security? They have no intention of overseeing and preventing cyber attacks that are unfavorable in their behalf. There is nothing to trust concerning the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), particularly since DHS does not have the authority to involve itself in state election systems. There is no legal authority to do so. While the federal government can protect America’s cyber infrastructure, it cannot interfere in state sovereignty without Constitutional authorization and state permission.  Allowing DHS to involve itself in state election matters establishes a precedent for them to come into the states,  interfere in elections, and further  attempt to gain control of the election process  through the states.

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