We’re one week into the historic Wisconsin recount, prompted in no small part by widespread concerns about the reliability of electronic voting machines and their susceptibility to tampering, fraud, and computer hacking. The difference in Wisconsin is currently about 22,000 votes, or 0.75%. Patriotic, democracy-loving Americans share a common value of wanting to see that every vote is counted fairly, accurately, and honestly, especially in such a close and crucial election as this one. Let’s get to know these machines better. The optical scanning computers used in Wisconsin and other states, especially the infamous ES&S DS-200, too often fail to count votes where voter intent could be discerned by hand. These are officially called “undervotes” or “overvotes,” but in many instances could be called “not counted votes.” A lightly marked ballot filled out by an elderly or handicapped person, a checkmark instead of a filled-in oval, or even a ballot cast using the wrong pen color can be missed or “no votes” in a machine count but real, legal votes in a hand count. In Florida, a shocking 1.67% of the people wearing an “I Voted” sticker didn’t actually. In Michigan, where the margin is only 11,000 votes, there are 75,000 not counted votes in Detroit alone. Hand counts will identify and include legal votes missed by the machine; anyone who says otherwise is simply wrong.
… Let’s recap some of what else observers have seen so far:
• In St. Croix County, recount observers discovered that tamper-protection seals on five voting machines used in the recount were broken. Officials later confirmed they were broken before Election Day as well. The same officials declined to conduct a hand count of all ballots and instead recounted ballots using those five machines.
• In Waukesha, a county with a history of troubled elections, officials are failing to reconcile the poll list in each ward, counting votes where the voter’s signature is missing from the poll book, and allowing ballot remakes that can’t be matched to originals. In other words, Waukesha is counting ballots that shouldn’t be counted.
• In Racine County, election officials are rejecting ballots by absentee/in-person voters whose ballot envelope does not contain a witness signature. Other counties are accepting identical ballots on the grounds that such voters have been witnessed by election officials. This disparate practice is also a violation of Wisconsin law and the Equal Protection Clause.
• The DS-200s create digital ballot images when they scan each ballot — images that are public records. Since it’s the scanned ballot images rather than the paper ballot itself that these machines are counting, to destroy the image is to destroy the chain of custody. That’s exactly what officials in Brown County are doing. Officials in Fond Du Lac County are refusing to make the images available to observers to compare to the machine totals.
• And yes, despite FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to Congress on September 28th, many of Wisconsin’s (and America’s) voting machines are connected to the Internet. The ES&S DS-200, in use in 15 Wisconsin counties, comes installed with a cellular modem to transmit results via the Internet on election night. Election observers in Wisconsin have confirmed that several counties, including the large counties of Milwaukee and Waukesha, use this capability. This also requires that the central county tabulator, which receives the transmitted results, is on the Internet, too. We suspect this is not an intermittent connection but that the county server is connected for longer periods, including during pre-election testing. Each county has discretion to create its own procedures, so whether or not these 15 systems are operated with even basic security precautions is a function of the people and practices in place in 15 separate offices, with little if any outside oversight. This opens up all the nightmare scenarios for tampering and hacking in our elections that computer scientists have warned us about. Against an adversary with nation-state cyberwarfare capabilities, all bets are off.
Uncertainty about our voting system’s exposure to hacking is poisonous to democracy, especially in an upset election like this one. The most urgent issue in America right now is to be able to confirm that every vote was counted fairly, accurately, and honestly, and if not, for patriotic Americans to raise bloody hell about it.
Full Article: How to save the Wisconsin recount – Medium.