Letter: Vulnerable vote

November 3, 2012


To the editor:

The founders of our country knew that power would be abused, and attempted to limit this danger through checks and balances. Why have we become so trusting in the modern age? What is it about modern humankind that warrants such a seeming belief in our intrinsic honesty and goodness?

We have voting machines in the majority of the country (including hugely important swing states) where the results cannot be verified, and where a smart 10-year-old can alter the results. In 2003, Stanford University released a study (http://news.stanford.edu/pr/03/dill25.html) which said in part, “Computerized voting systems pose unacceptable risks unless they provide a voter-verifiable audit trail.” As I write, there is no “voter-verifiable audit trail.” The study went on to document how Stanford freshmen could easily hack the machine’s voting totals, flipping results.

Who owns these machines? Are these owners such paragons of virtue that we need not worry about them — gasp — cheating? With billions upon billions upon billions of dollars in the balance, is there not the temptation to press a few keyboard buttons and make your favorite presidential candidate, senator, representative or governor win? Who’s to say that said presidential candidate, senator, representative or governor doesn’t own those machines? I’m serious; who is to say? We now go on blind faith in this country? Old King George must be laughing his rear off. God help us.


Liberty_One 5 years, 6 months ago

It's simple--don't vote. Secede from this totalitarian government personally and reject its legitimacy by not voting for the criminals trying to gain its powers.

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 6 months ago

Use your Google...Forbes Magazine--10/20/2012 "Romney Family Investment Ties To Voting Machine Company That Could Decide The Election Causing Concern."

Also Google "Why Ireland Scrapped Their Voting Machines." and watch the video. Last but not least, Google "Voting Machine Testimony" and be scared for our republic.

EDIT: This comment was meant for "Armstrong", below...oops!

Armstrong 5 years, 6 months ago

Sounds like the excuse machine is getting warmed up for Barrys loss in a few days

Paul R Getto 5 years, 6 months ago

Not true, but a good story for the paranoids.

fiddleback 5 years, 6 months ago

Hey Armstrong

Fellow braggart JonasGrumby proposed to stake his posting habit on that outcome, and I very gladly took the bet. Are you really that confident? If so, I can find another lib willing to join in. Bring it, huckleberry.

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 6 months ago

Romney Family Investment Ties To Voting Machine Company That Could Decide The Election Causing Concern--Forbes Magazine: 10/20/2012


Ireland decided this week to scrap their voting machines--like the ones here stored in Dublin ...

rbwaa 5 years, 6 months ago

at least in Kansas we still have a choice this year between a paper ballot and the computer

verity 5 years, 6 months ago

tange, I'm disappointed in you. Maybe not for President, but on the local level it certainly counts. Down Wichita way, it's looking pretty good for a number of Democratic women running against Brownback's handpicked. They may really have screwed themselves by targeting moderate Republicans. Some of these races are won or lost by a few votes.

Vote paper!

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes, you would.

We should have consistent national standards for voting, which allow all votes to be accurately counted.

How on earth can Romney's son be in charge of a company that makes voting machines??

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

Consistent national standards sound good, until you realize that something like that runs contrary to our very foundation. Our country was founded on the desire to avoid a too strong central government. One set of standards, dictated by Washington, using one set of machines, dictated by Washington, counting methods, dictated by Washington, timelines, dictated by Washington, disputes, settled by Washington ... There's something in that that just doesn't sit well with me. Maybe it's that Tenth Amendment.

Romney's son is in charge of a company that makes voting machines? I didn't know. But it should make you feel better that if there were many companies out there making voting machines. Some of those companies could be headed by Obama's daughters, at least in the future. Multiple manufacturers, headed by multiple individuals, with each county in each state deciding which machines they purchase, would lessen the possibility that any one company with a candidate's son at the helm would do something illegal to influence the outcome.

BTW - Has Romney's son done anything wrong is his capacity as head of the company? Has he been brought up on charges of some sort, convicted of some crime? Or is innuendo sufficient cause? Come on, jafs, you're better than that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

There is nothing "dictatorial" about a fair, consistent, verifiable and transparent voting process. And if there are going to be voter ID's, that system needs to be a national one, issued free of charge at age 18, which would insure that when people move between states and other jurisdictions, they can be registered in their new one easily, while preventing anyone from voting in multiple jurisdictions.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

Nothing dictatorial about fair, consistent, verifiable and transparent ... other than the suggestion that one single entity in Washington is going to be defining exactly what is and what is not fair, consistent, etc.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

It's not "one single entity".

Consistent is easy to define, without any bias. Verifiable is also easy to define that way.

We could define the standards in that way, and allow the states wide latitude in meeting them, which gives them a lot of freedom, but also retains the value of national standards.

I'd suggest the same for education, in fact.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes, I'm sure you're right. After all, "easy to define", "without any bias", "verifiable" is pretty much the way Washington has operated the last two plus centuries. There's no reason to believe this would tun into a partisan battle with so many compromises and loopholes that the courts will be interpreting election results after each and every election. That worked so well in 2000, I say let's do it every election.

I can see it now, Joe Biden holding up that punch card trying to determine whether that chad is hanging, dimpled or pregnant.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

It's interesting - you describe the problem.

That's exactly what we've got now.

The idea of consistent national verifiable standards is an idea to try to solve that problem, or at least make it somewhat better.

Any reasonable person would conclude from the "chad" issue that ballots like that are a bad idea.

You know, generally speaking, our conversations seem to take a similar form - I suggest an improvement, or solution for a problem, and you respond that it might make things worse, so we shouldn't try it.

Do you follow that sort of thing in your personal life? If there are problems in your marriage or business, do you just think "Things could be worse", and not try to improve things?

Are there any attempts to improve things in our society that you would support?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

Well, when I see a problem that can't be solved, then at least we can try to minimize the problem. I would rather have a recount and then a court battle over some ballots in Miami, Dade Country than to have the same problem nationwide. Merrill, below states that all computers can be hacked. I suspect he's right. That said, would I rather have a computer hacked in one Ohio county than a national computer hacked. Having seen hanging chads in one state, I'd rather have it confined than to make the problem nationwide.

I think part of the problem I have with your posts is that they are superficial. Not that your ideas are bad. Not that they wouldn't be an improvement on the current situation. But they lack a depth of understanding. I jokingly suggested we eliminate states. Actually, the savings in the elimination of duplicate services as well as a reduction of bureaucracy, would be huge. Eliminating states could simultaneously lower taxes and increase services. But even to make such a suggestion is foolish. That anyone wouldn't see that would be a fundamental lack of understanding of how things work. Or a lack of depth. We're not going to have national standards any more than we're eliminating the electoral college any more than we're eliminating states. I don't do it with you exclusively. During conversations about abortion, I've said Roe isn't going anywhere, despite the hyperbole. To suggest it might lacks a depth of understanding of how the Supreme Court works.

There is an old joke that asks "what is the first duty of a politician?". The answer is to get elected because without that, he can't do anything else. The first order for your suggestions might be that they have even a reasonable chance of being enacted. Not are they good or bad, that's to be decided at a later time. But do they have a snowball's chance in heck of being implemented.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

I hope you don't continue in what seems to be your current slide into insults - you know how I deal with that on these comments.

Your viewpoint appears to be a bit confused to me.

On the one hand, you criticize my ideas as "superficial", and on the other, that they won't be enacted.

If we only consider ideas that are likely to be enacted at this time by this government, we're limiting ourselves to a rather small set of unsatisfactory ideas, in my view.

So, I prefer to also think outside that box, and I don't agree that's "superficial".

I never said we should have national computers - I said we should have national standards.

What's your suggestion for improvement? I don't see any in your post at all. Again, seems like "Well, things could be worse, so let's not try to improve them".

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

I apologize if you thought I was insulting you. I didn't mean to. I only meant that ideas have to be both good and have some chance of being implemented. Your ideas are good and the face of it. I just don't see any chance at all of them being implemented. At that point, they become theoretical, a conversation piece. I have no problem discussing those, but if it's true as I believe it is, and as long as we all know it's just theoretical, then the conversation can be best kept in perspective.

During another conversation about voter fraud, I spoke of measured responses. I asked earlier is voter fraud rampant as someone implied or as rare as meteors hitting you in the head. Well, the truth is in the middle, but pretty darn rare, if you ask me. Therefore, I think measured responses are the best route. No national standards, maybe an ID when and where necessary. Add in some oversight by the states. Let the courts decide disputes, as necessary. Actually, pretty much what we have as I don't see any problems that arise to the level where major systematic changes are needed.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Apology accepted.

I think we have major problems with our elections, in a number of ways, starting with low turnouts and uneducated voters, continuing with election tampering, and possible voter fraud, etc.

And, I think we can and should do better than that.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

By the way, when you voted, did you vote on the proposal about taxes on the back of the ballot?

I hadn't heard a thing about that in any news media, and really didn't understand the question, especially since the watercraft mentioned in the summary wasn't mentioned in the text at all.

What's your understanding of that question?

Oh also, I'm not sure I agree that making sure all voting machines have a verifiable paper ballot is a "major systemic change".

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

My understanding of the ballot measure was less than clear, so I chose not to vote on that.

Verifiable paper ballot can be systematic changes, depending upon how it's implemented. I recall while living in California, the border between San Francisco County and San Mateo County ran right through the middle of the block. Not too different than State Line Road that separates Kansas and Missouri. In Ca., each county could choose the type of voting machines they wanted. And they did, producing very different voting methods. Certainly the same might be true for residents of State Line Road.

But that gets back to our ideals set forth in the very beginning of our country, that many decisions be made on the local level. So if "verifiable paper ballots" becomes a federal mandate, with limited choices of who makes those voting machines, I would define that as a major change. I'm not necessarily opposed to having a verifiable paper trail. But I do think that some rural county in Ohio should be making their own decisions about what is right for them. What is right for Lawrence might not be what is best for Dallas or Miami. And I believe that will be especially true if with a federal mandate comes some major international corporation mass producing at a much lower cost our very voting machines.

When Halibuton produces the vast majority of the voting machines and they do so at a much lower cost and they are made in China, that will be a bigger problem than having residents of State lIne Road using different methods, depending upon which side of the street they live on.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Our country also has the tension between states' rights and national rights.

The federal government is responsible for ensuring that constitutional rights are upheld, even if states or local municipalities want to ignore those.

In that vein, regulation that ensured all votes were counted accurately would fit for me as doing just that, protecting a constitutional right.

Isn't voting a basic national right?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

You know, I remember a story that came out about the time of the Florida recount. If you had ten million ballots and 5 million +1 voted for one candidate and 5 million -1 voted for the other, you will never know who won. You could count and recount, over and over again without ever really knowing who won, human error being well within the statistic margin of error. So when you say accurate, what do you mean? How much are you willing to spend?

Another story from the Florida recount. Miami/Dade County had the option of purchasing voting machines that a likely error rate of 1% or to spend substantially more money for machines with half that error rate. They chose the cheaper machines. That may seem folly now, but can you honestly say you're aware of the budgetary problems they were dealing with? I can't. Without knowing that, no one can give an honest answer.

So, is voting a right? Yes. Is accuracy desired? Yes. Can it be absolutely achieved by humans? No. Given that, what level of inaccuracy are you willing to accept?

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

What are you willing to accept?

I'd say we should do as much as possible to ensure accuracy, even if we can't get a completely 100% accurate system.

By the way, I just read about mail-in ballots - not only do they offer the possibility of voter fraud, if somebody lets somebody else vote for them, but also of election tampering, if/when poll workers discard valid ballots.

According to the story, millions of mail-in ballots are discarded each year.

Ok with you?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm not OK with any of it. But what am I willing to do to ensure it doesn't happen? Am I willing to break the bank to do it? How about we cut the education budget in half and divert that money towards ensuring fair elections. Cut medicare, the social safety net, the military? How about we just borrow a couple of trillion from China?

I'm of the understanding that mail-in ballots are frequently discarded under a couple of different scenarios, the most common being if the number of ballots could not swing the election. In other words, if there are a thousand ballots, but one candidate has a two thousand vote lead. Spending a lot of man hours (money) to count votes that won't matter is the rationale.

So I return to my main point, that we have measured responses to problems, not potential problems.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

No it doesn't make me feel good that politicians' children make voting machines, regardless of which ones they are.

I find it unacceptable.

And, I don't need any "proof" that he's done something wrong - the clear conflict of interest there and possibility of corruption is enough for me.

I say again the only way to make sure that all votes are counted, and counted accurately, is with consistent national standards.

The same way the only way to ensure a consistent education is with those.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago


From the guy who always wants proof, facts, suddenly the appearance of a conflict of interest is enough.

How about if it were a first cousin? How about a Koch brother or George Soros? How about a relative of a Senator or someone who also owns contracts with the Defense Dept.? Heck, eliminate all Democrats and Republicans. A loyalty oath, yes. "I swear upon this oath that I have never voted for nor will I ever vote for a Democrat or Republican".

Take your suggestion a step further and we can simply eliminate states. We can all simply become Americans. No fifty state depts. of education. No fifty states dealing with natural disasters. Things might be more efficient, more fair. There are many good aspects of something like that. Other than it's not our country.

Sorry, Jafs, this is just another suggestion where the medicine is worse than the disease.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

I didn't say we should throw him in jail.

All I said was that I don't like relatives of candidates making the voting machines.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

That's fascinating.

Did you read it?

Although it says that Romney tampering with voting machines is unlikely (which I never claimed, by the way), it also lists a variety of ways that R in Ohio have been trying to undermine and interfere with the election there.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

Jimmy Carter slams ‘financial corruption’ in U.S. elections 'We have one of the worst election processes in the world,' former president says


Liberty275 5 years, 6 months ago

The second worst president in American history, fortified with cowardice.

FloridaSunshine 5 years, 6 months ago

Liberty, I'm about OVER you and your comments. I've been holding in my opinion of your posts for a long, long time and I'm ready to explode! I've looked and looked into why the hostages were released under Reagan's watch instead of while Carter was in office. Heard one time, one lousy time, that it was going to be investigated by congress because someone else, like myself, and I'm sure many other Americans, smelled something rotten with the whole scenario. Well, they were "paid off" because I never heard another word about it. (Wonder what Reagan's pay-off was...besides the Presidency). We had to put up with him FAR too long and that wife of his looking up to him as if he were a god...can't stand to even think of the two of them (and believe me, I'm trying to be nice). At any rate, I feel MUCH better now!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

The poor schmuck who got stuck with cleaning up Nixon's messes, most of which the unelected Ford was wholly ineffectual at dealing with.

One thing is certain-- he's by far the best and most effectual ex-President.

FloridaSunshine 5 years, 6 months ago

Give me a freaking break, JonasGrumby...or is it really Liberty_One???

Flap Doodle 5 years, 6 months ago

Jimmy's still got sour grapes after all these years? Inconceivable!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

The only sour grapes around here are the ones you continually spew.

FloridaSunshine 5 years, 6 months ago

You've got that right, bozo! Jimmy Carter is far too busy to be concerned about sour grapes...which is an absurd insinuation about the man, snap, and you know it! Sour grapes from Jimmy Carter? I think NOT.

tomatogrower 5 years, 6 months ago

It would not be that difficult to have a print out of how you voted, that would be dropped into a box. The computer could be the election night count, which would be confirmed a few days later with a paper count. Why are conservatives so opposed to this?

Brock Masters 5 years, 6 months ago

Simple. We have control of the voting machines and will decide who wins regardless of the actual vote.

To keep things looking legit we will allow a few ineffective meaningless liberal candidates to win. Look for a win from Francisco and Davis. Otherwise we will rig the election to put ultra conservatives into office even though they received less votes.

Heck Holland would be governor right now if not for the computer votes that were eliminated before being counted.

Of course what I wrote is pure fiction unless you're one of those tin foil hat wearing wackos.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Actually, it's a good question.

Why shouldn't all voting machines have to have a paper printout?

Liberty275 5 years, 6 months ago

Why? Do you think a printout in your hand has to agree with the database used to tally votes?

Regarding the technophobia some people suffer, it's a lot easier to stuff a box of paper ballots than a computer database.

Liberty275 5 years, 6 months ago

So you trust thousands of poll workers unattended but not the guy writing the code that is audited continuously?

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Because without a paper ballot to compare with the voting machines, there's not enough of a check on possible screwups, in my view.

Personally, I think the best way is with a paper ballot at the beginning of the chain, that can be kept and checked against any electronic stuff.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 6 months ago

Hope for the future?
Anonymous has pledged to monitor computerized voting. Think they can't do it? I suggest you look into their previous "activities".

FloridaSunshine 5 years, 6 months ago

I truly believe JonasGrumby is Liberty_One in disguise.

jonas_opines 5 years, 6 months ago

A lot of similarities in the type of rhetoric.

/not Liberty1

FloridaSunshine 5 years, 6 months ago

Paul...Oh, yes!! :~)

jonas...I'm sure you're right. Both seem quite despicable.

FloridaSunshine 5 years, 6 months ago

Innumerable thumbs up to you, tange! Hi...

FloridaSunshine 5 years, 6 months ago

Is my mind playing tricks on me...or is JonasGrumby actually...GONE??? Please tell me I'm not dreaming! s-m-i-l-e

Terry Sexton 5 years, 6 months ago

Maddow is hot. You know she is. And she's twice as smart as most of us. I've never heard her use the word 'teabagger.'
Bill Maher is smart, but he ain't hot.

verity 5 years, 6 months ago

You're assuming that truth is important.

Pastor_Bedtime 5 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the reminder that the only women of use to the nation are the ones you find "attractive." Must have been dissed by them a lot . Hatred of women ~ the newest Republican core value. By the way, Rachel probably wouldn't find you to be her cup of tea either.

Liberty275 5 years, 6 months ago

The UN can go do nothing somewhere else. Good for Texas.

Liberty275 5 years, 6 months ago

Sounds like someone is already making excuses for Obama's loss. The left trots out this dog and pony show anytime they think they will lose an election.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

Verify ... who the person voted for or who the person is? Both, neither?

I'll vote for both, but neither my vote nor my identity has been verified.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago


Only eligible voters should be able to vote, and those votes should be counted correctly.

I just voted, and showed my ID - I'd say my identity was verified.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

I also voted and showed my ID.

I was just joking when I said my vote in this forum hadn't been verified and obviously, because I post anonymously, my identity in this forum has not been verified.

Liberty275 5 years, 6 months ago

"Why are untested and unverified software patches being put on the voting machines in Ohio this past week contrary to Ohio election laws?"

Why haven't you notified the Ohio AG?

"You're in favor of verifying the person voting is who they say they are, but not that their vote is getting tallied for the candidate they chose?"

There is only one way to verify votes and none of you have come up with the answer yet.

somedude20 5 years, 6 months ago

Great point though it is their style.......support the fetus but forget the baby, child, teen,adult, old and dead!

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

--- Paperless electronic voting on touch screen machines does not provide confidence to ensure votes are counted the way voters intend.

--- The software on which votes are counted is protected as a corporate trade secret, and the software is so complex that if malicious code was embedded, no analysis could discover it. Further, because there is no voter verified paper record, it is not possible to audit the electronic vote for accuracy, nor is it possible to conduct an independent recount. This is a grotesquely designed, over-complicated, expensive system fraught with the potential for mistakes and undetected fraud. We should not trust the future of our nation to such malleable technology.

--- In the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy 2004, four top computer scientists from the University of California, Johns Hopkins University, and Rice University similarly critiqued Diebold’s voting system.

--- "We found significant security flaws: voters can trivially cast multiple ballots with no built-in traceability, administrative functions can be performed by regular voters, and the threats posed by insiders such as poll workers, software developers, and janitors is even greater. Based on our analysis of the development environment, including change logs and comments, we believe that an appropriate level of programming discipline for a project such as this was not maintained. In fact, there appears to have been little quality control in the process.

--- "…The model where individual vendors write proprietary code to run our elections appears to be unreliable, and if we do not change the process of designing our voting systems, we will have no confidence that our election results will reflect the will of the electorate."

--- Computers are inherently subject to programming error, equipment malfunction, and malicious tampering. If we are to ensure fair and honest elections, and retain voter confidence in our democratic process, we need to ensure that there are no such questions. Therefore, it is crucial that any computerized voting system provide a voter-verifiable paper audit trail and that random audits of electronic votes be conducted on Election Day. Paperless electronic voting machines make it impossible to safeguard the integrity of our vote - thereby threatening the very foundation of our democracy.

--- Moreover, the seller of the machines, the Diebold Corporation, is a supplier of money to one the republican party. The CEO and top officers of Diebold are major contributors to republican campaigns. A corporation with vested political interests should not have control over the votes of the populace.

--- Voters using any computerized voting machines should immediately report any suspected malfunctions or deficiencies at voting precincts to their Board of Elections. Voters should also urge their legislators to require a voter verified paper ballot trail for random audits and independent recounts. Count every vote!

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

All computers can be hacked by someone ----

FlintlockRifle 5 years, 6 months ago

People, People Just vote, if you havn;t already

verity 5 years, 6 months ago

Is it just my impression, or is it the same people who are so concerned about voter fraud by people without photo IDs the same ones who are now insisting that hackable voting machines, some owned by a candidate's son, should not be seen as a problem?

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

That's certainly what it seems like.

Strange, isn't it?

verity 5 years, 6 months ago

Considering their general opinions and state of mind as stated on these boards, not really strange at all. They're being transparent as to what their real motives are.

Transparency is good, no?

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Well, yes, in that way it's not strange at all.

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