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An Open Letter To President Donald Trump: Support Paper Ballots and Hand Counts at Local Polling Precincts

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Message Lynn Landes

We, the undersigned, are "voting integrity" activists who request that our federal government require by law only paper ballots and hand counts of all ballots, including absentee ballots, at the local polling precincts on election day, and prohibit all voting and vote-counting technology--such as lever voting machines, touchscreens, and optical scanners--as it interferes with one or both of the following: 1) the voters' right to a physical ballot; and 2) the voters' right to publicly and locally observe that their votes are counted properly.

In particular, computers are impossible to secure, regardless of whether or not they are connected to the Internet. Computerized voting machines can easily be rigged by an insider (i.e., election officials or company technicians), as these machines must be updated for each new election. And, at the conclusion of voting, computer cartridges are uploaded to a central counting facility, offering another excellent opportunity for company insiders or outside hackers to change the results. Worse yet, many new voting machines are wireless, making their vulnerability to both insider riggers and outside hackers limitless. And all of this can be accomplished without risk of detection.

As Craig C. Donsanto, head of the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Election Crimes Branch, Public Integrity Section from 1970-2010, said in a July 4, 1989 Los Angeles Times article about electronic voting machines and election fraud, "If you did it right, no one would ever know."

We agree with that statement, but question why in all this time the DOJ never took any steps to rectify this violation of our fundamental right to vote? More specifically, under U.S. Code, Chapter 20, the DOJ may dispatch "federal observers" to safeguard the voting process, but why bother when there is nothing meaningful for federal observers to observe as long as voting machines can effectively obscure the process?

Over the years, many of us have contacted government agencies, political parties, and the news media with our research and concerns, to little avail. It is incomprehensible that those in positions of power do not understand the risk to our democracy.

In this regard, your actions and statements on this issue are on-target with our concerns. According to news accounts, and in response to reports of voting machines flipping votes from you to Hillary Clinton, your campaign was reportedly "considering legal action to compel authorities in those counties to take the voting machines out of service and conduct the rest of the election on paper ballots."

On December 28, 2016 you said, "I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on. We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I'm not sure we have the kind, the security we need."

And on Dec 31, 2016, at the Grand Ballroom of Mar-a-Lago ahead of your New Year's Eve party, you added, "I don't care what they say. No computer is safe . . . You want something to really go without detection, write it out and have it sent by courier . . . the old fashioned way. . . . Hacking is a very hard thing to prove."

We wholeheartedly agree with you. Computers are neither safe nor secure under any circumstance, but particularly not in the voting process. In addition to rigging and hacking vulnerabilities, voting machines routinely malfunction and break down.

Although some voting integrity activists believe that paper receipts are sufficient answer to these concerns, in reality, paper receipts only complicate the process, as recounts are nearly impossible to attain or execute effectively. Generally speaking, recounts only take place in "close" elections, which simply means that if someone is going to steal an election, they should steal it by enough so that a recount is not triggered.

For those who say that the logistics of hand counts are too inconvenient and time consuming, we say that a timely hand count is based on a sufficient number of poll workers per number of registered voters and the length of the ballot. For example, Canada uses two election officials per approximately 500 registered voters. Additionally, election officials do not need to depend on volunteers. Citizens can be drafted to work at the polls on Election Day, as is done routinely with jury duty.

In a sense, vote counting computers have become "media props," fitting into the networks' desire to present and analyze election results in the Nightly News time-slot. The tradeoff between computer warp-speed, and the security and reliability of our electoral processes is, as you recognized in December, something to seriously reconsider.

Fundamentally, voting should be a completely public and local process. Our right to a physical ballot and public oversight of the vote counting process supersedes any perceived convenience of technology. Therefore, we ask that you support a federal law that requires paper ballots and hand counts of all ballots, including absentee, at the local polling precincts on election day, and prohibits all voting and vote-counting technology. Thank you.

Lynn Landes, Author and Publisher

Jonathan D. Simon, Author
Computerized Election Theft and The New American Century

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Lynn Landes is a Philadelphia-based writer, researcher, and activist in the fields of politics, health, and the environment. Her articles and opinions have been published in several books, films, and online publications.

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