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A Sampling of Misconceptions & Outright Lies About Elections

Message Pokey Anderson
by Pokey Anderson
April 6, 2008

"We wouldn't be able to get enough people to count real ballots" is just bogus, when viewed in the context of all the energy and money the whole rest of elections are piled high with.

"These voting machines work."

"Well, they work well enough."

"They have been federally certified."

"They have triple redundancy."

"If anything was wrong, the logic & accuracy test would show it."

"If anything went wrong, it was the fault of the voters. They don't know how to vote."

"If anything went wrong, it was because the pollworkers did something wrong."

"Corporations own the counting software, and it's a trade secret, so citizens can't know it, or know about it. Same with the results of the certification testing."

"No one handles your ballots except election officials, and state police who transport them."

"Everything that might be vulnerable is locked up at all times."

"Vote by mail and absentee ballots solve all the security vulnerabilities of elections."

"Voting by email is convenient, and should be adopted because convenience is the most important thing about elections."

"If everybody got a receipt to take home with them, that would solve all the security problems. If somebody stuffed the ballot box with ghost votes ... oh, wait, that would never happen."

"Scanning a picture of each ballot and posting it online would be a slam dunk, easy, cheap solution to ballot security. Everybody checking their ballot later would be dependable. This would be so much easier than just having 5 citizens per 1000 voters hand-count the ballots in public the night of the election."

"No insiders ever attempt to steal anything valuable, and there is no serious threat to elections from hackers, candidates, officeholders, zealots of various kinds, foreign governments, or criminal organizations."
"There are no financial incentives to steal an election; various industries and individual corporations barely care who is in office, or what regulations or contracts are legislated."1

"If someone tried to steal an election, everyone would know."

"No one could steal an election except by a few votes, maybe a percent or two."

"There are only a few ways to steal an election. The electronic ways would be too difficult or costly for anyone except a very few people in the entire country."

"There is no way somebody with a flash drive could plug it into a DRE (electronic voting machine) and reprogram the entire election, leaving no trace of their theft."
"DREs are great. Bolting a printer onto a DRE, one that prints out a long strip of cash-register-type paper, with curling paper and quickly fading ink, is not like putting a new paint job and new fuzzy dice in a Ford Pinto."

"The media would be on an election fraud story like white on rice, if there ever were any election fraud. Everyone would know about it right away."

"The US Attorneys in the Department of Justice would investigate any hint of election fraud or substantial flaws."

"No money ever changes hands between vendors, election officials, and consultants that could be characterized as bribery. And election officials never approve a multi-million-dollar purchase order for new equipment from a vendor, then go to work for the company that just got the order."

"The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice would investigate and prosecute any attempt to deprive minorities of their right to vote."

"If a close election for US Congress had obvious flaws, say, 18,000 voters whose votes did not register, then Congress would step in and prevent the dubious winner from being seated in Congress. Congress would demand a revote, or some meaningful resolution of the problem."

"If an election had obvious flaws, and was litigated, the courts would step in, and demand meaningful resolution of the problem."

"It's easy to find attorneys to take these cases, and they are quick and inexpensive to litigate."

"Recounts are easy, inexpensive, the ballots have a 100% safe chain of custody from Election Day to the day of recounting, and the recounts always prove that the election was clean and accurate. In fact, no one has ever been convicted of rigging a recount."

"It would be too costly to do elections right. This will have to do. What possible consequences could there be if the loser were allowed to take office?"

"There will always be long lines on election day. This has absolutely nothing to do with officials using DRE voting systems, which have the slowest rate of voters-per-hour of any system."

"The most important thing about elections is that the media get the results quickly, that night. And, electronic counting is always the fastest."
"DREs are the cheapest per voter, when a comparison is done with optical scan or hand-counted paper ballots." 2
"Even if DREs (electronic voting machines) are completely unverifiable and unverified, as long as they are accessible for disabled voters, that justifies that 100% of voters can't be sure their votes were counted."

"DREs and only DRES work best for helping disabled voters vote."

"Optical scan elections are the gold standard, and because they have paper ballots paired with electronic tally systems, they cannot be stolen."

"There is no way somebody with a flash drive could plug it into an optical scan voting machine and reprogram the entire election, leaving no trace of their theft."
"Election officials are too resistant to change, and they would need many years to change a system."

"What we really need more of is Voter Confidence. The crazy activists just stir things up, make people less confident, and discourage people from voting at all."

All of the above are false, at least part of the time. What we currently have is Voter Con instead of Voter Confidence. The country's "elected" officials have become unhinged and disconnected from what The People want.

Note 1: The U.S. federal government is the largest consumer of goods and services in the world, spending over $230 billion annually on goods and services. There are 34,785 registered lobbyists. That's 65 lobbyists shadowing each member of Congress. "Between 1998 and 2004, the amount of money spent on lobbying the federal government doubled to nearly $3 billion a year, according to the Center for Public Integrity." ("The Press: The Enemy Within," by Michael Massing, New York Review of Books, Volume 52, Number 20 · December 15, 2005 http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18555)
Just one industry, the big pharmaceutical companies, spent nearly $109 million and hired more than 800 lobbyists to ensure the passage of the Bush Administration's $535 billion Prescription Drug Bill. Just one energy bill (signed in August 2005) included subsidies to the oil & gas industry of $6 billion, subsidies to the coal industry of $9 billion, and nuclear power subsidies of $12 billion. (Public Citizen, http://www.citizen.org/cmep/energy_enviro_nuclear/electricity/energybill/2005/articles.cfm?ID=13980)
But, the largesse going to Big Pharma and Big Oil is chump change compared to the spoils going to defense contractors. Between 1997 and 2004, the twenty largest Pentagon contractors gave Washington's political elites $33.6 million in campaign contributions, and invested $390 million in lobbying Congress. The investment paid off, yielding those same weapons companies $558.8 billion in federal contracts. ("Randy Cunningham's Crash Landing: The Duke and the Enterprise," by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR, November 29, 2005, CounterPunch, http://www.counterpunch.org/stclair11292005.html)
Note 2: In one study, Miami-Dade Florida tripled their costs when they brought in DREs. They spent $1.4 million in overtime costs alone to support its ES&S touchscreens. Back-up batteries for each of the 7,200 ES&S touchscreens - at $147 each - totaled more than $1 million. ES&S support staff in advance of elections has been as high as $1,100 a day, per person, there, while Broward County reported that it ponied up support staff rates as high as $1,800 a day. Yet, election officials around the country whine that they "can't" get people to come in one evening and hand-count paper ballots. If they offered people $200 for an evening's work to hand-count, their next problem would be controlling the crowds who wanted to sign up and do that. Even with that generous pay scale, the entire nation's votes could be hand-counted for about 87 cents per voter, and hand-counting in public at the precinct is the real gold standard of accurate, transparent elections. Hand-counting would be much cheaper than the current erratic, untrustworthy, hackable and non-observable elections using software, either electronic touchscreens or optical scanners. (Cost numbers are from "Paperless, Touch-Screen Voting Costs Soar," Herald Today Manatee-Brandenton-Sarasota, May 29, 2005, TERE FIGUERAS NEGRETE Knight Ridder Newspapers, http://www.votetrustusa.org/pdfs/MiamiDadeDumpsDREs.pdf)


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Pokey Anderson has broadcast or published numerous reports on voting machine issues over the past four years. She co-produces a weekly news and analysis radio program, The Monitor on KPFT-Pacifica in Houston. A previous article was "Even a Remote (more...)
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