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Below you'll find suggestions for effective actions everyone can take, whether you live in Massachusetts or not, to help protect the truthfulness of Tuesday's Massachusetts senate special election.

Massachusetts election results will roll in from 351 municipalities (counties do not run elections in Mass., unlike most states). I've been poking around, and it looks like initial results will be posted through this news Web site:

These will be media results, not a governmental source, but should be collected as they roll in and compared with governmental results.

Yes, the machines are hackable*, machines are programmed by a firm with a member of its key management team afflicted with a criminal record and a history of driving around the state with replacement memory cards and voting machines in his trunk. And this election is vehemently political, with the winner possibly holding a key vote on the controversial healthcare bill.


Except for the unusually high octane senate race, this election is no different than any other Massachusetts elections over the past 10 years. They've had tamper-friendly machines and a thuggish, centralized voting machine programming firm for many years now, the same situation that afflicts New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut.

When I say "thuggish" I refer not only to the narcotics trafficking conviction of LHS Associates' key management team member/voting machine support guy Ken Hajjar (photocopy of record here: ), but to the sometimes profane and very blustery and pushy interactions many of us have had with these characters. Here's YouTube video showing LHS President John Silvestro interrupting a New Hampshire legislative hearing:

Now, when I say there is never basis for 'trust', what I mean is this: Public elections are the method by which we choose our representatives. Some say we have chosen to trust, because we empower our representatives to make decisions for us, and that is somewhat true. But the process of CHOOSING our representatives can never be ceded entirely to insiders, whether they work for the government or not. The public must retain the right to see and authenticate every essential step; if any key step is concealed from the public, the election ceases to be public, and an inadvertent transfer of power (from the public to a handful of insiders) takes place.
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"Poll watching" is a good and important thing to do, but it does very little to protect results. Let's assume that the political parties and various members of the public will get out there and poll watch, to make sure that registered voters can vote and no non-legitimate votes get into the pool.

Nowadays, with computerized counting and absentee voting, two key steps are removed from public right to see and authenticate:

(1) Computerized counting removes public right to see and authenticate the count. After the fact audits do not replace or restore this. One of the "essential steps" is the original count, and no "after the fact" procedure -- especially one which takes place after ballots are transported -- can replace public right to see and authenticate the original count.

(2) Absentee voting removes public right to see who actually casts each vote.
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So what can we do? I say that citizens both in and outside of Massachusetts can help protect the election, because we can all help pinpoint municipalities that merit special vigilance.


Massachusetts has 351 election jurisdictions. We can help Massachusetts residents pick locations to watch -- and "watch" does NOT mean just during the live election. Election Night and the days following the election are perhaps even more important!

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Bev Harris is executive director of Black Box Voting, Inc. an advocacy group committed to restoring citizen oversight to elections.

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