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View Diary: Warning: They may just steal Ohio (148 comments)

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  •  I wrote this before, but I'll repeat... (14+ / 0-)

    so that we can lay this near-CT to rest and get on with actual worrying about things that are likely.

    Ohio voting machines of every type (the state uses six different models of voting machine from three different companies): all of them have a voter-visible and verifiable paper record of the votes cast. A quick review of the machines listed on the Ohio SoS website shows why this idea of fraud using any kind of software "patch" or other trick, while certainly technically possible, is a lot more difficult and likely to be discovered than you're taking into account with purely software-based techniques.

    Many of the machines are optical scan devices, which either means that the voter marks the ballot by hand and then turns it in for scanning or they use a ballot marking machine (this largely for ADA compliance) and have the ballot returned to them before turning it in to scan. The voter is in direct control of their ballot until it's scanned, so there's really no opportunity for fraud until that point. Some of the most critical counties for Democrats (like Cuyahoga) use this type of machine.

    Even those machines that count votes directly, usually called DRE machines, (which about 60% of the counties use) have a visible paper audit record for the voter to review to ensure accuracy. The most common type (the Premier AccuVote-TSx, not a machine made by ES&S) even keeps a running record of what the voter does on screen (i.e., it doesn't just record the final vote choices, but all actions the voter takes, including corrections.)

    Why review this? My point is two-fold.

    First, what this means is that any attempt to rig these machines would need to take the paper trail into account, which is a much more difficult and easier to detect piece of tampering. With the optical scan machines, this record is unalterable by the machines themselves at any time, since the optical scanners do not modify the paper ballots in any way and the voter can see their ballot after it comes out of the marking machine (if they even use one, which the vast majority of voters will not) and thus those too would be almost impossible to rig without voters noticing on the spot before they actually vote (i.e., turn in the ballot to be scanned.) The same is basically true of the DRE machines, since they all present the paper audit tape for the voter to review before they approve their vote. If those records are altered, again the voter will see and know this on the spot and most will complain to poll watchers and election officials.

    Second, you have the recount problem. The very purpose for which these paper audit records were instituted was to make recounts sure and to check for machine errors (and that would of course include rigging.) If you don't rig the paper trail (and, as I pointed out above, that has some serious problems that have nothing to do with software but rather with the voter's own eyes detecting the fraud on the spot) then in any recount the fraud will be detected. In Ohio, recounts automatically include doing at least 5% by hand (i.e., they go to the paper record, not the electronic one.) Optical scan ballots are rescanned but a 5% random sample (more than enough to detect any discrepancy) is hand counted as an error check. On DRE machines, all recounts are by hand since there's no doubt that the machine record will always be the same (you're basically checking for machine errors in this case.)

    This means that virtually any recount for any reason (not just for allegations of fraud) would be almost certain to reveal the discrepancy between the electronic and paper records. Once fraud had been revealed in one place, you can be sure that no one would rest until all counties had been subjected to recount and the extent of the fraud uncovered. Since something as simple as a close election in any county will trigger a recount, this is the other serious check on any attempt to rig the vote and have a hope of actually getting away with it.

    It's not that it's impossible to do this, in a technical sense, but the risks of being caught are far higher than most of CT on "patches" and other software trick is assuming because they're focused only on the technical, software side of the problem. Remember, the paper trail was what we progressives demanded to keep these new electronic voting machines from being easy to rig the vote with. Our best protection is already in place and in use in Ohio. While I wouldn't put it past plenty of our opponents to want to rig the vote, I'm very skeptical about their ability to get away with it undetected.

    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

    by Stwriley on Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 06:26:06 PM PST

    •  Well said, all OHIO DREs have VVPB printers (6+ / 0-)

      that create paper ballots, per Ohio law, any differences or in a recount the paper is hand counted per statute.

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 06:56:25 PM PST

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    •  Thank you very much (4+ / 0-)

      for taking the time to explain Ohio's voting system in such detail.

    •  Finally (5+ / 0-)

      some good old-fashioned facts.

      Thank you.

      Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
      ~ Jerry Garcia

      by DeadHead on Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 07:09:50 PM PST

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    •  OK then (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Everybody in Ohio be sure to verify your paper before leaving the polling place.

      •  Eh? Who cares about the paper? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The only time the paper would matter would be if someone actually forces a recount.  That's highly improbable, even if polling would seem to indicate discrepancies.  You could easily leave the paper trail showing everything it does now, simply report a different aggregate number, and have a damn good chance that no one is ever going to take the time to check the paper trails.

        Again, that's why there should be no such thing as 'proprietary code' on voting machines.  It should all be open source.

        •  Not so... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Roger Fox

          since were not just talking about recounts from challenges. Any close race in any county will force a recount and this is far more common than you seem to be assuming. I'll quote Edward B. Foley, the Director of Election Law @ Moritz, run by the Mortiz College of Law at Ohio State University:

          Today, automatic recounts are quite common in Ohio, with each primary, general and special election generating at least several races within the 0.5% margin.
          In other words, there will be recounts (which automatically look at all votes on the ballots in question, especially during the hand recount procedure) and, as I pointed out above, this will be almost certain to catch any rigging in conjunction with the recounted ballots. So, in fact, there is basically a 100% chance that at least in some counties the paper record will be looked at and paid attention to.

          Not that you're wrong about proprietary code on voting machines being a bad thing (it shouldn't just be open source, it should also be "owned" by the state and/or Federal governments rather than any private holder.) But the recount process and paper records are still our best and most active defense against vote machine rigging.

          Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

          by Stwriley on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 05:13:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  10's of thousands of activists worked hard for (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          VVPB printers on DRE's.

          Rush Holt cares about paper, Michele Mulder cares about paper.....

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 08:43:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I love Rush Holt! (0+ / 0-)

            No really (in a completely platonic, "oh-my-goodness-I-wish-he-were-my-congressperson" kind of way.)

            I use to work near Princeton and it was there that I first saw one of his bumper stickers, which may be the best ever:

            "Yes, my Congressman really is a rocket scientist."

            Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

            by Stwriley on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 08:08:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

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