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Ultimate Nightmare for Democracy: High Confidence Yet Total Fraud

I practiced consumer fraud law for 10 years before moving on to election law and election fraud. I will show you that ALL AUDIT PROPOSALS where the paper is generated by a computer touch screen (whether DRE or Automark ballot printing devices) simply can not work in any way, ASSUMING that what we want is an election that matches true voter intent, which is what we all want.

The most critical issue with all audit proposals where computers print the ballot, is ignored by both the Holt supporters like Lisa Pease as well as Holt detractors, such as Brad Friedman.

My biggest concern is not that the machines will print out a paper record (ballot or trail) that is different than the electronic record, but rather one that is the SAME as the electronic record, where BOTH the paper and electronic are erroneous or fraudulent .

The reason the above scenario is so very important is that when the paper and the electronic record match up, that means that audits will pass with FLYING COLORS. All of them. The paper matches the electronic.

We all congratulate ourselves on a proper election when paper matches electronic, right? Of course.

The problem is with the assumptions that go into this.

The problem assumption is this: We assume that "voter-verified" paper means that voters catch mistakes. BUT THIS ASSUMPTION JUST MENTIONED IS NOT TRUE: IN FACT, VOTERS DO NOT CATCH MISTAKES OR FRAUDS IN THE PAPER WHEN IT IS SECONDARY TO VOTING ON A SCREEN .

It's like at the grocery store, people sort of watch the cashier and see if it makes general sense, but the secondary paper receipt almost nobody checks closely. In fact its quite on the anal side or even weird to sit there and study it.

Now, if the claim that I just made above is true, then the Holt bill would threaten to be a further disaster for democracy because we would have elections that (1) always pass audits with flying colors and (2) are still totally fraudulent because the voters fail in their HR 811 "opportunity" to catch errors and approve the paper ballot as printed by the computer system for them. But surely people are more careful when VOTING, right?


In one study, volunteers were required to check the paper trails/ballots they were given, some were correct some not. Of the incorrect paper records, there were 108 incorrect paper trails.

Can you guess how many of the 108 incorrect paper ballot trails the voters actually detected???

50? 100? Perhaps even 107 out of 108 total incorrect paper trails?

ANSWER: The voters caught exactly ZERO of the 108 fraudulent or irregular paper trails. 0%. Nada. Zip.

Yet it is assumed by HR 811 and all paper trail/ballot auditing systems that paper catches errors. This unexamined assumption is false and it is also fatal to ALL audit proposals regardless of the details or scientific rigor of the audit proposals .

Here's United States Senate testimony from an MIT/Caltech elections expert:

Each subject voted three elections which contained an error and one election which had no error. The three kinds of errors that we inserted in the audit trail were replacing the candidate the voter voted for with a different candidate, removing a vote for any candidate, and removing a whole race from the audit trail. In all cases, the visual feedback that appeared on the screen and in the final review screen of the DRE was accurate, only the audit trail, either the paper receipt or the audio feedback was inaccurate.

The most startling results from our study concerned the number of errors that voters were able to identify. We noted the number of errors that voters reported to us as they were voting. The numbers at each level are quite startling. Out of 108 elections that contained errors, 14 errors were reported to us in the [audio] VVAATT audit while no errors were reported in the [paper trail] VVPAT audit. In our post-survey data 85 percent of participants agreed with the statement that there were errors in the audio verification while only 8 percent agreed with this statement for the paper trail. Almost a third of participants actually disagreed with the statement about errors in the paper trail. (top of page 2) (square brackets added to explain meaning of acronyms)

Yet because the paper trail or paper "ballot" printed by a computer is still a VOTER-"VERIFIED" paper ballot, with high indicia of perceived reliability, it fools us all into thinking the paper trails are the "Correct" record, when voters really only pay attention to the original input (into the computer) not to a secondary OUTPUT (paper ballot for recounts/audits per HR 811 or a paper "trail"). THus, this problem is not present with hand counted paper ballots where the voter votes or reviews ONE time, instead of TWO as with all audit proposals that involve printing paper off of computer touch screen inputs .

Note that in the above study only 8% thought there might be a problem with the paper even though there were 108 election problems with the paper ballot trail, and it was repeated 108 different times, and the voters caught Zero% of the actual errors.

So with Holt paper ballots used for recounts or audits, the elections can easily be a fraud, but even a whole bunch of activists think "it's all good" because the voters had the chance to verify the paper, but in fact they basically do NOT verify the paper in a way that catches errors .

Thus, Paper ballot/trails create the gold standard for voter-verified FRAUD AND MAKE IT ALL SEEM LIKE IT'S A LEGITIMATE ELECTION . The riggers are then laughing their butts off with delight at this state of affairs, knowing that while perhaps at most 10% of errors get caught, 90% are voter approved and therefore legitimated.

1. This is the new gold standard of fraud, because even if a defect in the software is proven, there are strong arguments that the voter WAIVED any such error by "approving" their printed-out ballot. Given an "opportunity to correct" whatever errors a voter "fails" to discover are highly likely to be considered WAIVED. One can waive some pretty important rights. For example, HR 811 supporters can properly waive their own voting rights, but on what basis do they advocate the waiver or compromise of everyone else's rights?

2. Computerized ballot printing systems also come complete with duct tape for the mouths of all voting activists and citizens who will get laughed at for even suggesting a problem when the voters "approved" and "verified" these paper ballot things, each and every one of them. Whatever frauds or errors there may be are OK because the voter approved them.

Clint Curtis recently proved (unintentionally) to us that even voter affidavits are insufficient to overcome the secret first counts.

The above fact that voters do not in fact catch errors in the paper means that paper trails (no matter how excellently audited) can not possibly guarantee us an accurate election because it is human nature not to pay attention to secondary paper, and yet that paper becomes the gold standard of false confidence and voter-certified fraud. 0 for 108.

ACTION: It is not responsible to seek to change our voting systems without seriously dealing with this study. Please bring it up at every single opportunity "audits" are mentioned. I think this argument is very solid, but at a minimum it has to be dealt with by any responsible politician, election official or activist.
It's OK to forward or post this email, but most important of all, no discussion of audits can possibly be responsible toward the integrity of our election without answering the question of how they can guarantee that voters catch all the errors in secondary paper, when all the evidence shows that it instead would create a sort of ultimate nightmare for democracy: High Confidence, Yet Total Fraud.
Paul Lehto
Juris Doctor
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Paul Lehto practiced law in Washington State for 12 years in business law and consumer fraud, including most recently several years in election law, and is now a clean elections advocate. His forthcoming book is tentatively titled DEFENDING (more...)
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