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You Can't Count Your Change

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Message Mark E. Smith

This is my response to those who don't think the use of tabulators to count votes would be a problem if all the results were posted at the polls so that when inconsistencies were found they could be settled with an immediate recount, and where those who rigged elections could be caught and punished:

And how do you propose those inconsistencies be found?

How would you know to look for inconsistencies before the machine totals were posted?

Once they're posted, they're transmitted to election central, to the Secretary of State and to Congress. At that point, if it is a Congressional candidate and they've flown to Washington, they can be sworn into office long before you discover any inconsistencies and long before the circuit clerks would start a hand count.

They're tired. They've had a long day. Once they announce the machine totals, you have to start comparing the poll books, the exit polls and whatever else you can get other than the ballots, which you can NOT get, in order to spot any inconsistencies. And the clerks are not likely to think your suspicions are sufficient basis for them to stay up all night.

To spot inconsistencies in a machine count, you need to be able to refer to the paper ballots, and you can't refer to the paper ballots unless you have already shown inconsistencies.

If we have a system that is open and honest, it doesn't have to be verified. If it is open and honest, it is verified as it is done, not afterwards when it is too late.

Would you like it if banks and store clerks counted out your money but told you that you could not recount your change until after you had left the bank or the store? You know that you have the right to watch them count your money and to recount it yourself right then and there. If you could only count it later on, after you'd left the bank or store and you then came back and said you were ten dollars short, why should they believe you? But if you recount your money right in front of them, and say there's a discrepancy, they will recount it again themselves and if you're right, they'll apologize and give you the difference. Neither you nor the money has been out of their sight, so they know you didn't put some in your pocket and lie that they'd never given it to you.

Once the machine count is posted, there is a chain-of-custody problem for the ballots. They can not all remain at the precincts until you have time to search for inconsistencies. The poll workers are tired too and they have to return the ballots and all other materials to election central and the polling places are often not open to the public overnight.

Once the ballots leave the polling place, unless there are several trustworthy citizens with varying political views and affiliations accompanying each poll worker as they transport the ballots and the memory cards from the precincts to election central or to pick-up points, you have a chain-of custody problem. Even where all ballots are on paper and are counted ONLY at election central, they remain in the custody of the elections officials, the insiders most likely to have the means, motive and opportunity to manipulate them, until and unless there is some sort of spot check, audit or recount. It will NOT be that same night or the following morning, but the media WILL have announced the winner by then.

Chain of custody should be a given and pigs should be able to fly but it isn't and they can't.

You don't want a system that "catches and punishes" anyone who hacks an election, because that leaves the unelected candidate in office where they can do untold harm and cannot be removed.

You want a system that PREVENTS election fraud. You need to prevent unelected candidates from being sworn into office. As long as there are machine counts, they will be announced first, the candidates can then be sworn in immediately and you and your recounts can spend the next eight years waving your proof that they weren't elected around like some fool.

This isn't a mathematical problem. This is an ethics problem. If you allow secret vote counting, you don't have any ethics. Secret voting counting is not ethical. Any counts done by tabulators are secret while they are being done inside the black box. Trying to prove afterwards whether or not the count was accurate is locking the barn door after the horse is stolen.

The problem with the U.S. educational system is that it graduates a lot of rocket scientists who haven't got a lick of common sense.

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I'm an anti-civilizationist and election boycott advocate in San Diego. For reasons not to vote in faith-based elections with secret vote counts for candidates you cannot hold accountable if they fail to represent you, check out the discussions, (more...)
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