You may have noticed an uptick of stories, posts and comments which seriously consider the possibility that computerized election fraud occurred in 2016. (Example
.) Too many of these stories focus on the idea of Russian interference, as though Putin were the only possible culprit. Even though an "inside job" is just as likely -- and just as evil -- the idea of foreign interference gnaws at the American conscience.
A few days ago, Time magazine
published a major story which reiterated the now-familiar scenario of Russians hacking the "voter rolls" -- as though hackers would want to romp and scamper in there without actually doing anything to affect the outcome. For weeks, the Voices of Authority have told us "But there's no evidence that they changed the actual votes...!" Nobody buys that line. I doubt that even the Republicans buy it, not deep down, although they'll keep their skepticism private.
Suppose a cop said the following to you: "Intruders came into your house while you were on vacation, but there's no evidence that they stole anything. No need to check your jewelry box. No need to invest in new locks." How would you react?
The Time article on election integrity was more forceful than others of its kind, even though the writers make some rather dubious statements...
During the run up to the vote, Obama Administration cyber-security officials took steps to prepare for widespread voter registration manipulation, fearing Russia might seek to cause chaos at polling places to undermine the credibility of the election.
"Chaos" didn't happen. Trump
happened. Logic tells us that the goal was not to create "chaos" but to create a Trump presidency.
Current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials say Russia could also have tried to use stolen voter data to gain leverage over witting or unwitting accomplices in the Trump camp, by involving them in a broader conspiracy.
This statement indicates that the hackers did, in fact, have accomplices within the Trump camp. The great concern is therefore not leverage
but the fact that Trump won when he should have lost. Why is Time so reticent to admit the obvious? This article prompted former governor Howard Dean
to say out loud (via Twitter) what everyone else is thinking:
This is much more serious than previous information. This opens the door to the idea that Trump may have won with falsified votes.
Some of the follow-up tweets are worth quoting here:
Reminder: it would have only taken five falsified absentee ballots per district in PA to produce the margin Trump won by...
The rolls would have been altered to keep people from voting. If only 5 people per district couldn't vote wouldn't have triggered panic
Ex-freakin-actly! Move the needle just enough to win, but not enough to be noticeable. What the morons don't count on is...statistics, trends and probability will show even the slightest data manipulation. Why? Because numbers never lie.
Donald Trump won all of the "surprise" swing states by less than one percent. How likely is that
As Trump's friend Roger Stone once wrote (in one of his more honest moments):
In an America as large and diverse as we are, the politics of unification is a non-starter. It is unrealistic to think that one could voice one or the other of the political philosophies of the two major parties to unify the country around any course of action. The politics of unification is, at heart, about only so much as you need to unify your 51%.
You may have heard the old college axiom: Your degree is the same whether you're a C student or an A student
. Similarly: In electoral politics, pushing yourself one-tenth of an inch past the 50 percent mark gains you the same amount of power that a landslide victory would have attained. A presidential candidate need not even get past the 50 percent mark in the popular vote -- he or she need only eke out a win in the electoral college.
Computerized election fraud is not a bludgeon. It is a delicate instrument designed to help Mr. 48% become Mr. 50.1% Anything beyond a subtle
shift would be too obvious. (Although if you ask me, Bernie's win in the Michigan primary was pretty freakin' obvious.)
A side-trip into StoneVille.
The above quote comes from an unpublished Stone autobiography. The following summary
describes Stone's main methods of election-rigging (paragraph breaks added to increase readability):
The first is through association, by having a candidate receive an endorsement from a person or group who potential supporters of the candidate are predisposed to view as an opponent, or through association with something unquestionably malevolent made via protesters, pamphlets, or other means funded by Stone’s campaign but without any fingerprints.
The second is by having a group, funded by allied interests, oppose a candidate or policy due to some larger moral principle that everyone can agree on – the issue is not candidate A versus B, but opposition to crime, gambling, or child abuse.
The third is the smear, saying your opponent is corrupt, weak, racist, a rapist, a murderer, a pedophile, always helpfully done not through you, the opponent on which this tar might stick, but through a phantom proxy.
This last is used very, very often by Stone. The fourth, and one of the most effective, is through fragmentation of the vote. There is, say, overwhelming support for candidate A, who will raise the minimum wage, versus candidate B, who won’t. You split this overwhelming vote by funding another candidate, who wants to raise the minimum wage even higher, and who chastises candidate A for compromising their principles and being beholden to business interests for not asking for a higher wage. Through a vote split, candidate B, the one who says he believes the condition of workers must be improved, but not through easy sounding solutions like a higher minimum wage, scores a victory. At the same time, you make great efforts to keep the votes for your own candidate or issue from being fragmented.
The fifth is vote suppression, of black and latino voters, who tend to poll democrat. The first four have been employed in elections that Stone has been involved in, with Stone often taking credit. The fifth has been employed alongside Stone’s efforts, though perhaps without the collusion of Stone.
Keep in mind that these words were published well before Trump announced his candidacy.
We saw all of these tactics in play throughout 2016. I don't think that there is any doubt now that Bernie Sanders functioned, wittingly or otherwise, as Trump's agent. The above passage reads like a prophecy of the Sanders movement, especially the bit about the political usage of the minimum wage.
By the way: This glimpse into Bernie's skeletonized closet
gives us a pretty good idea of how the Trumpers might have been able to recruit him.
The writer of the above-quoted passage feared to tackle the issue of election hacking. Until recently, one could not discuss this possibility without inviting those ever-so-clever remarks about tin foil chapeaus. That's why the writer restricted himself to the cognate topic of minority voter suppression, which is disputed only by the most shameless propagandists.
But minority voter suppression doesn't explain Trump's greater-than-predicted strength in the rural counties of those three swing states where he won by less than one percent. That's
what nudged him over the mark in the electoral college.
Ruthless employment of the first four of Stone's tactics can push even a terrible candidate close
to the half-way mark. To creep one-tenth of an inch beyond the 50% line, election hacking may be necessary.
Responding to nay-sayers.
Unfortunately, too many people still refuse to acknowledge this possibility -- and Barack Obama didn't help the situation when he declared our election system to be more immaculate than the Virgin Mary.
One canard that we keep hearing -- even in pro-democratic forums -- is that the "recount" in WI actually increased
Trump's totals. We have excellent reasons to question the veracity of this alleged recount.
1. The Republican-controlled state needlessly kept raising the cost of the recount
-- a strong indicator of bias.
2. Trump's lawyers adamantly blocked any attempt to examine the computer software for signs of malware. As I've said many times in the past, this blockage constitutes a de facto
admission of guilt.
3. Trump's official vote share in Wisconsin was 3.6 percent higher than the exit polls
indicated. Those who defend the immaculate-ness of our elections tend to scoff at the reliability of exit polls. Here are three reasons why I scoff at the scoffers: A) The United States considers exit poll discrepancies to be indicative of election manipulation everywhere else in the world -- everywhere but here
. B) Until the advent of computerized voting, the talking heads on teevee routinely assured us of the accuracy of exit polls. C) Exit poll discrepancies should skew blue as often as they skew red, but in actual practice, they almost always demonstrate a "red shift." This shift defies conventional explanation.
4. There were towns in Wisconsin where the election-day turnout exceeded 100 percent
-- more votes than voters. In a number of other places, the turnout hit very unlikely numbers -- 90 percent or more. Also see here
5. Most important of all: The Wisconsin recount was not done by hand
. (See also here
.) Since the recount was (for the most part) done by machines, and since those machines were not checked for malware, and since we know that the Russians hacked election systems in 39 states
including Wisconsin, the recount results are meaningless.
What do we do?
First: Never concede the legitimacy of Donald Trump's election. For that matter: If we are to be perfectly fair, then we must also not concede the legitimacy of Barack Obama's election, although the 2012 and 2008 results are far more difficult to call into question. A flawed system is a flawed system, even when you like the candidate who won.
Second: Tell everyone you know to read this piece by Glenn Harlan Reynolds
So what should we do? Well, we could try to boost our cybersecurity, but given that the NSA, the FBI and the CIA are leaking important secrets on a daily basis, maybe we’re not up to that job. So, once again, let me suggest that we return to something that, by its very nature, can’t be hacked by a guy in St. Petersburg: Paper ballots.
In some ways, paper and ink is a super technology. When you cast a vote on a voting machine, all that’s recorded is who you voted for. But a paper ballot captures lots of other information: Ink color, handwriting, etc. If you have access to a voting machine that’s connected to the Internet, you can change all the votes at once. To change a bunch of paper ballots takes physical access, and unless you’re very careful the changed ballots will show evidence of tampering. Paper ballots aren’t fraud-proof, of course, as a century of Chicago politics demonstrates, but they’re beyond the reach of some guy sitting at a computer in a basement halfway around the world. And there are well-known steps to make Chicago-style fraud harder.
Perhaps it’s time to mandate paper ballots, and to also legally require other steps to ensure election integrity. Vote-counting systems should be transparent, and regularly audited. Voter ID should be strictly enforced, as it is in all advanced democracies to ensure that only eligible voters vote. And voter registrations should be audited frequently to ensure the removal of voters who have died or moved away. Maybe we should even dye voters’ fingers to prevent revoting, as is done in many other countries. There’s no way to hack that.
Bravo. Reynolds has hit upon the right way to proceed: Tell the Republicans that we will address their
election-integrity concerns if they concede our
A Voter ID card may, over time, actually increase the participation of minorities, the elderly and the homeless. I visualize a system in which each voter receives a plastic card like a driver's license or library card, perhaps with a fingerprint or some higher-tech means of identification.
In my view, such a card should allow the voter access to any precinct in the nation (though only for the purpose of registering a presidential vote), thereby eliminating any of the "dual registration" concerns that often arise when a voter moves. The voter will swipe the card just before entering the booth, insuring that he votes only once in any given election.
(I'm not sure what to do about absentee voting. Any suggestions?)
A voter ID card system will stifle Republican conspiracy theories about multiple-voting schemes. Moreover, this system will actually make voting easier
. Even someone who lives in a car or a cave or an impromptu mountain shack will carry a wallet, and that wallet will carry the card. Under the present system, a homeless person often cannot register to vote, at least not easily. Under my proposed system, registration -- if deemed necessary at all -- can take place with the swipe of a card.
In return, Democrats must insist -- and I mean INSIST -- on paper ballots and the hand-counting of those ballots. Insuring the integrity of the tabulation is of paramount importance. Computers must play no further role in either the casting or the counting of votes.
A final note to readers who donated to our "AC" fund:
Have you ever been stuck trying to guess an old password? I still
can't get into my old Yahoo email account! And I need to do so in order to thank you individually.
For now, let me thank you again collectively. Hell, I don't know what we would have done without you. There were days when I yearned to dive into the Chesapeake: Even if that stunt killed me, I would have died cold