Archive for March 21st, 2009

Who’s Committing Voter Fraud Now?

I love how Republicans constantly push for vote suppression measures based on mythical “voter fraud” that never happens (who’s going to risk going to jail to cast just one fraudulent ballot?), but pretend to be completely unaware of stories like this:

From Lexington, Kentucky’s NBC affiliate this afternoon:

Five Clay County officials, including the circuit court judge, the county clerk, and election officers were arrested Thursday after they were indicted on federal charges accusing them of using corrupt tactics to obtain political power and personal gain.The 10-count indictment, unsealed Thursday, accused the defendants of a conspiracy from March 2002 until November 2006 that violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). RICO is a federal statute that prosecutors use to combat organized crime. The defendants were also indicted for extortion, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to injure voters’ rights and conspiracy to commit voter fraud.

According to the indictment, these alleged criminal actions affected the outcome of federal, local, and state primary and general elections in 2002, 2004, and 2006.

The article goes on to list some of the criminal actions listed in the indictment. Among them [emphasis added]:

  • Clay County Clerk, Freddy Thompson, 45, allegedly provided money to election officers to be distributed by the officers to buy votes and he also instructed officers how to change votes at the voting machine.
  • Election officer William E. Stivers, 56, allegedly marked votes or issued tickets to voters who had sold their votes and changed votes at the voting machine.
  • Paul E. Bishop, 60, allegedly marked voters or issued tickets to voters who sold their votes and he also hosted alleged meetings at his home where money was pooled together by candidates and distributed to election officers, including himself. He was also accused of instructing the officers how to change votes at the voting machine.

Essentially, they tricked voters into leaving the ‘booth’ after pressing the “Vote” button on the ES&S iVotronic. That button, does not actually cast the vote, as one might think (and as these voters were told), but instead, it brings up a review screen of the voter’s “ballot.”

Instructing the voters that they were done, the conspirators then, after the voter had left, would change the voters’ votes as they saw fit, before finally pressing the “Cast Ballot” button.

Well, that’s just lovely.  But still kinda high-risk and small potatoes.  It’s a good thing electronic voting machines are so hard to tamper with, right?

Even the audit log system on current versions of Premier Election Solutions’ (formerly Diebold’s) electronic voting and tabulating systems — used in some 34 states across the nation — fail to record the wholesale deletion of ballots. Even when ballots are deleted on the same day as an election. That’s the shocking admission heard today from Justin Bales, Premier’s Western Region manager, at a State of California public hearing on the possible decertification of Diebold/Premier’s tabulator system, GEMS v. 1.18.19.

(…)

In addition, the software was discovered to have a “Clear” button which, when pressed, would actually delete the contents of an audit log without even asking for confirmation from the user. That, despite repeated federal and state testing and certification of the software which failed to notice the egregious programming flaws in violation of federal voting system standards requiring indestructible logs to track all system events.

Oh, better yet.  There could be a silver lining, though:

The problems may lead to decertification of the company’s voting systems, as well as an examination of voting systems made by other companies to determine if they too may have been able to sneak such violations past both federal and state testers…

I could totally live with that.

UPDATE: Well, crap.  It would have been nice if the original story had mentioned that election officials from both parties were tampering with votes.  Of the party affiliations provided in the indictment, there were at least two Democrats and one Republican (for most of them, no affiliation was given at all).  However, this does not change the fact that unscrupulous election officials, unsecure electronic voting machines, and yes, vote suppression, are far more of a threat to the democratic process than the Republicans’ voter fraud boogeyman.

4 comments March 21st, 2009 at 06:23pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Elections,Republicans


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